Invisibility  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Invisibility is the state of an object which cannot be seen. An object in this state is said to be invisible (literally, "not visible"). The term is usually used as a fantasy/science fiction term, where objects are literally made unseeable by magical or technological means. However, its effects can also be seen in the real world, particularly in physics.

Since objects can be seen by light in the visible spectrum from a source reflecting off their surfaces and hitting the viewer's eye, the most natural form of invisibility (whether real or fictional) is an object which does not reflect nor absorbs light (that is, it allows light to pass through it). In nature, this is known as transparency, and is seen in many naturally-occurring materials (although no naturally-occurring material is 100% transparent).

Visibility also depends on the eyes of the observer and/or the instruments used. Thus an object can be classified as "invisible to" a person, animal, instrument, etc.

Fictional use

Invisibility in fiction

In fiction, people or objects can be rendered completely invisible by several means:

  • Magical objects such as rings, cloaks and amulets can be worn to grant the wearer permanent invisibility (or temporary invisibility until the object is taken off).
  • Magical potions can be consumed to grant temporary invisibility.
  • Magic spells can be cast on people or objects, usually giving temporary invisibility.
  • Some mythical creatures can make themselves invisible at will, such as in some tales in which Leprechauns or Chinese dragons can shrink so much that humans cannot see them.

In some works, the power of magic creates an effective means of invisibility by distracting anyone who might notice the character. But since the character is not truly invisible, the effect could be betrayed by mirrors or other reflective surfaces.

Where magical invisibility is concerned, the issue may arise of whether the clothing worn by and any items carried by the invisible being are also rendered invisible. In general they are also regarded as being invisible, but in some instances clothing remains visible and must be removed for the full invisibility effect.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Invisibility" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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