truly a site unseen

Seeing the sibling that wasn’t there

So I sat through the premiere of the Disney Channel Original Movie Invisible Sister, as mentioned previously. As suspected, it was not related to the book with the similar title, which got an “Inspired by” credit.

That said, it was actually a pretty good story in this vein, and while you expect a DCOM to have a certain quantity of “heartwarming” stuff, it never actually detracted from the plot, and the special effects were more than acceptable — though I don’t think it’s going to make a lacrosse fan of me.

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Somewhat out of sight

A member of the Invisiphiles group (thank you, Tex) spotted an Invisible Woman graphic at, and hey, how could I resist?


Oh, what fun.

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Are we almost there?

The trouble with your standard present-day “invisibility cloaks” is that they’re not all that cloaky: kinda thick and inflexible, in fact. But wait:

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, designed a carpet cloak, a device that covers an object and scatters light as if it’s hitting a flat surface instead of something three-dimensional.

The cloak is very thin — only about a tenth the size of the wavelength of the photons it’s scattering — and lossless, so there’s no dimming to give away the presence of the cloak. The scientists achieved this by using a new design and different materials. Instead of a periodic structure of metal, which absorbs light, they use two dielectric materials, a Teflon substrate studded with cylinders made of a ceramic. The ceramic has a high refractive index, and the Teflon has a low refractive index. When combined, they create a metamaterial, capable of bending light in unusual ways.

The finished product will of necessity be extremely thin:

It was designed for the microwave range, with a 0.6 cm thickness to handle 6 cm wavelengths, simply because those larger dimensions made it easier to work with. A cloak could be made for visible light but would have to be much thinner. Because the shortest wavelength the human eye perceives is slightly less than 400 nm, a cloak would have to be less than 40 nm thick, a dimension easily achievable by the photolithography processes used for making computer chips.

Still: WANT.

(Via Instapundit.)

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See-through socks

For some reason, this image put some ideas into my head:

Mere sheers somehow don’t have the same effect.

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Try this at home

I can absolutely assure you that if I ever have a chance to test this out, I will:

First, Arvid Guterstam made himself invisible. When he looked down at his body, there was nothing there.

He could feel he was solid; he hadn’t vanished into thin air. He even felt a paint brush tickle his transparent belly, while the brush appeared to be stroking nothing but air.

Being invisible is “great fun,” Guterstam reports, “but it’s an eerie sensation. It’s hard to describe.”

Then he took off his virtual reality headset and was back in the laboratory, fully visible. Guterstam is a medical doctor and PhD student, and he had just pulled off the first fully convincing illusion of complete invisibility. He went on to test 125 other people, and reports Thursday in Scientific Reports that seven out of ten also felt the illusion, and it was realistic enough to make them feel and respond physically as if a group of people could not see them.

A few steps below, say, the Star Trek holodeck, but possibly affordable by mere mortals not so far in the future.

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The sibling that wasn’t there

In development — at least to the extent of setting up a casting call — at the Disney Channel:

Invisible Sister will tell the hilarious story of a good-natured, bookish young girl named Cleo who accidentally makes her super popular sister Molly invisible after the science project she is working on gets out of control. Now Cleo has to figure out a way to turn her sister back to normal and Molly gets a powerful look at what life is like when no one sees you.

There had been some chatter to the effect that this project might have been based on the book My Invisible Sister by Beatrice Colin and Sara Pinto, but the plot synopsis as given sounds nothing like that book.

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Still lives

The Japanese, I am persuaded, pay far more attention to this particular, um, fantasy than we do in the States. As evidence, I present this ten-minute collage of drawings, maybe two of which I’d seen before:

[Oh, fudge. The video’s been pulled.]

(Thanks to Dale.)

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On the horizon

Philip Ball’s Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen, due mid-April, is an analysis of the dynamic:

If offered the chance — by cloak, spell, or superpower — to be invisible, who wouldn’t want to give it a try? We are drawn to the idea of stealthy voyeurism and the ability to conceal our own acts, but as desirable as it may seem, invisibility is also dangerous. It is not just an optical phenomenon, but a condition full of ethical questions. As esteemed science writer Philip Ball reveals in this book, the story of invisibility is not so much a matter of how it might be achieved but of why we want it and what we would do with it.

In this lively look at a timeless idea, Ball provides the first comprehensive history of our fascination with the unseen. This sweeping narrative moves from medieval spell books to the latest nanotechnology, from fairy tales to telecommunications, from camouflage to ghosts to the dawn of nuclear physics and the discovery of dark energy.

Ball’s book is going on my wish list.

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How not to be seen

The singer/songwriter known as Sia, on the promotion of her new album 1000 Forms of Fear:

I already have a much larger concept for this album and for how I’m going to present it and that was: I don’t want to be famous. If Amy Winehouse was a beehive then I guess I’m a blonde bob. I thought “well if that’s my brand, how can I avoid having to use my face to sell something,” so my intention was to create a blonde bob brand. Throughout this whole thing I’ll put a different person in a blonde bob and either they lip-synch while I’m doing a live performance or they perform a dance or do some sort of performance while I have my back to the audience, as with Ellen.

And in the official video for the first single, “Chandelier,” there’s a tween dancer with endless reserves of energy — in a blonde bob. But there’s also a lyric video:

In case you didn’t think she was serious about it.

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Presumably her boyfriends were surprised

Author Rodd Thunderheart has finally completed his novel See Through Love (Friesen Press, 2014), which is listed as Coming Soon at the publisher’s site. Part of the blurb:

High school teacher Carolina Dominguez has the unique ability to turn invisible at will. While she usually has control over her supernatural ability, Carolina becomes invisible every time she is attracted to a man.

This will, of course, be added to my To Read list.

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New-ish at the FIdB

A couple of additions while you weren’t looking:

  • 13 black sends along Pearl Andrews, vintage beauty from the Web series The True Heroines;
  • Paul Cwick points to Jo McCormick, tween member of the Big Bad Beetleborgs, one of those 1990s series that combines Pacific Rim mecha footage with new stuff shot in Southern California.

Thanks to them, and to all the contributors over the years.

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Even more Transparent

If you liked Natalie Whipple’s Transparent, as I did, be prepared for the second verse: Blindsided (which, you have to admit, is a great title) is due out in mid-January from Hot Key Books.

HarperTeen, which published Transparent, apparently passed on this one, but will pick up Whipple’s House of Ivy & Sorrow (April), a tale of a high-school-age witch and a Curse that affects her family.

Addendum: Here’s the cover art:

Cover of

In your face!

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Latest news

Finally got Transparent’s Fiona McClean added to the FIdb. (I’ve reviewed it here.)

A different tack altogether, and not entirely on topic, since it’s a guy, but I also recommend Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan, an affecting story about a teenage boy who can’t be seen — and the new girl in town, who can actually see him. The appearance of two good YA novels on this topic, I suggest, is good news for the future.

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Watch for this

From HarperTeen, a new book by Natalie Whipple:

Transparent’s Fiona McClean could be a superhero. She has a mutation that allows her to become invisible. But her father, a Las Vegas crime lord, forces her to use her power for evil. Since she was five, she’s been stealing cars, robbing banks, and spying on people.

Fiona’s had enough, so she escapes to a small town far from her father’s reach. Happiness is hard to find surrounded by a mother she hates, a brother she can’t trust, and a guy at school she can’t stand, but Fiona manages to make some friends. And when her father finally tracks her down, Fiona discovers how far she’ll go to protect everyone she’s come to love.

I’ve got my preorder in already.

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Think of it as an Easter egg

An invisible Jeanne RayEverybody tells you to stay in your seat when the movie’s over, because something might happen after the credits, and of late it happens often enough to justify the extra five minutes before hitting the streets, so you’ve come to see it as the rule rather than the exception.

Now this cultural artifact wouldn’t seem to apply to books, but here’s an example where it did: Jeanne Ray’s 2011 novel Calling Invisible Women, in its original hardback version from Crown, bears the usual flyleaf photograph of the author — except that she’s invisible. It says something, though I’m not sure what, that I’d read it twice before I ever noticed.

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New FIdB additions

Lola Savullo (Invisible) and Clover Hobart (Calling Invisible Women) have been posted to the database.

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