Lesson #5: What to do when I accidentally become invisible.

This appears to be a serious problem in science fiction. Accidentally becoming invisible is very different from becoming invisible on purpose, such as Harry Potter with his cloak of invisibility. When someone becomes invisible intentionally, usually the person knows how to become visible again. In sci fi, accidental invisibility is usually termed “out-of-phase.” When one is “out-of-phase,” the person cannot affect the world around her or him. Therefore, eventually the person will die of starvation and dehydration if the problem isn’t fixed. This is serious. Somehow, the out-of-phase-ees pass right through all matter, including walls, but do not pass through floors. Physicists are looking into the bizarre properties of floors which make them impermeable to those out-of-phase.

Make friends with Data, the clever one.

Make friends with Data, the clever one.

If this happened to you, what would you do? Since I could not affect the world around me, I would not be able to tell anyone that I was still there, instead of the common assumption that I was eaten by a space monster or vanished into a black hole. There seem to be two options in this case. First, I would take a look at the device I was messing with when I first became invisible. I may discover that it has some sort of interface to allow the out-of-phase to communicate with those in-phase. I may be able to see an entire display that those in-phase cannot see, like in Stargate SG-1. Usually, however, it will be written in an obscure alien language which I do not know. You may want to study up on alien languages in case this scenario happens, like Daniel Jackson. The device may allow some sort of direct communication with the in-phase world. In which case, if I can just get someone to look at the device, I’m saved.

In the event the device does not allow any communication, I really only have one option: hope I have smart friends. In general, surround yourself with brilliant people who will be able to figure out and fix the problem should this happen. If possible, make friends with an android. They seem to be good at deduction, like Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Secondly, be consistent and reliable. If you are an unreliable person in general, people will assume you just didn’t show up. However, if an otherwise reliable person fails to appear, intelligent people will think that maybe, just maybe, you’re out-of-phase. They are your only hope.

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6 responses to “Lesson #5: What to do when I accidentally become invisible.

  1. I’ve often wondered why, in Star Trek-land, esp. the original, no one is ever at their post when the ship goes to ‘Red Alert’ and lots of crewmen all of a sudden have to go somewhere else. What do we take away from that? Perhaps, in the future, there’s never anything important to do except during an emergency.

  2. shanaheinricy

    Thanks Ray! That may be a new lesson sometime soon!

  3. “Out of phase” people can also continue to breathe air, which is decidedly odd… 😉

    The show that seemed to deal with this sort of thing the best (IMHO) was Stargate SG-1, where different characters were variously out of phase, in alternate universes OR alternate dimensions (and I always thought it was cool the way they distinguished between alternate universes and alternate dimensions) in several different episodes over the 10 seasons of the show. IIRC, there were some other instances of invisiblity, too. I guess what that meant is that, if you are out of phase, there isn’t one single alternate “phase” that you are “in”–you can apparently be “out of phase” in different ways. 🙂

  4. Good points. Yeah, Stargate definitely distinguishes between alternate universes and alternate dimensions. I never really thought about if other shows do that too.

    I think you’re right about being out-of-phase in different ways in Stargate too, although it was never really explained well in the narrative of the show. Cool.

    I can’t believe I’ve never noticed that the out-of phase people can breathe air! In all my years of viewing, I caught the floor paradox but never the air one. Good catch!

    Thanks for your great ideas! I hope you keep reading!

  5. Pingback: DS9 Stories/News: Sci-Fi Lessons – Crazy things I’ve learned from years of Sci-Fi | My Daily Deep Space Nine Notes

  6. Pingback: DS9 Stories/News: Sci-Fi Lessons – Crazy things I’ve learned from years of Sci-Fi | My Daily Deep Space Nine Notes

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