The Dunwich Horror by Doug Dougmann (www.deviantart.org)
As previously mentioned, Wilbur’s twin appeared to have more of his father’s traits manifested phenotypically than Wilbur. However, one of the most interesting of these traits was the fact that Wilbur’s twin was invisible. How can a living entity be invisible? This is the subject of discussion for this article.
Not until the very end of “The Dunwich Horror” is Wilbur’s twin actually visible by humans and this was accomplished by Dr. Armitage spraying it with some powder that he produced in the laboratory. So how can something be invisible? To answer this we need to talk a little bit about light. When light hits an object, it can be reflected, refracted, diffracted or absorbed.
Reflection is changing the direction of the light wave once it hits a surface.
Reflection of light off of a surface (www.boundless.com)
Refraction is when the light wave changes direction as it passes from one medium to another. For example light moving from air into water.
Refraction of light as it passes from air into water (www.mskfatima.weebly.com)
Diffraction is when the light waves change direction as they pass through an opening or around an object.
Diffraction of light or sound waves
Absorption is when the light wave (and its associated photons) is collected and its energy is converted into something else like heat. In the case of plants, they contain chlorophyll, which is a photoreceptor molecule. The energy from the light is absorbed by the chlorophyll and excites its electrons from ground level to an excited energy level, cascading into a series of biochemical reactions that eventually leads to the production of sugars and the release of oxygen.
Chlorophyll does not absorb all light equally. For example, chlorophyll absorbs the blue light portion of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum strongest, followed by the red section of the spectrum. In contrast, chlorophyll is not very good at absorbing in the green portion of the EM spectrum, which is why most plants look green. Since the greens are not absorbed by the chlorophyll that section of the light spectrum is reflected back to our eyes and absorbed by a specialized set of photo-sensing cells (called cone cells) in our retina. That is why plants are generally green and not red or blue.
Absorption of various colors of light (www.philschatz.com). Note when all colors are absorbed darkness is the result.
So is Wilbur’s twin absorbing all light that hit it? Very unlikely since the absorption of all light would not result in invisibility but instead the absence of light, which is darkness. This is why a black hole is black – it is absorbing all light. Thus, if the twin was absorbing all light, it would look like a large, black silhouette of a shape. Some other mechanism must be in play.
Essentially, there two ways to produce invisibility. The first is to bend light (or any electromagnetic radiation) around the object, giving it the appearance that it’s not present. Researchers are working on creating objects that are invisible with the use of metamaterials, which are materials that are designed and created to have properties typically not found naturally. Many metamaterials are composed of plastics or metals and are arranged in a specific order on a microscopic basis, allowing them to influence waves of the EM spectrum or of sound.
A series of 3D drawings of various metamaterials, composed of block copolymers (www.wiesner.mse.cornell.edu)
Researchers have recently announced that they have made small objects invisible to near-infrared radiation. Others claim to have created a cloak invisible to radiation in the section of the EM spectrum between infrared and radio wavelengths. Since light just another part of the EM spectrum, it may be feasible to create a metamaterials that is invisible to light. While it is possible that Wilbur’s twin was composed of a skin or exoskeleton that behaves similar to these metamaterials, such material may not be conducive to allow the twin to move in a fluid or organic way. Thus, I hypothesize that Wilbur’s twin is invisible through another means – that is through transparency.
We are movie familiar with transparent materials than we are of metamaterials in our everyday lives. Transparency is the physical property of allowing light to pass through a material without it being scattered. Glass and distilled water are examples of materials that are transparent. Since glass is transparent it allows photons of light pass through and they are not absorbed by its atoms. Essentially, the refraction of light in glass is very uniform, which allows the light wavelength to pass right through, making it transparent.
Water (for this sake of this discussion think of pure, distilled water) is very effective at strongly absorbing the majority of the EM spectrum. However, the exception to this is the narrow band of the visible spectrum, which results in light essentially moving through water, making it transparent. More than likely the extra-dimensional atomic structure of Wilbur’s twin has a similar physical property, allowing light to pass through it. An interesting experiment would have been to expose Wilbur’s twin to various types of radiation (radio, microwave, infrared, UV, X-rays, etc.) to determine what types of energy are absorbed by it and what types are transparent.
The EM spectrum in water. Note how almost all of the wavelengths are absorbed except for the portion representing visible light, which passed through. Thus, pure water is transparent.
Unlike Wilbur who was composed primarily of matter from our space-time, the twin was probably composed mostly of matter from outside of our space-time. Such matter has been cited elsewhere. In “The Whisperer in Darkness” it was stated that the Mi-Go were composed of matter with electrons having a different vibration-rate. Was Wilbur’s twin composed of extra-dimensional matter that behaved, at least partially, as water when exposed to the natural range of the EM spectrum found on Earth?
Finally, to conclude this conversation, the twin was made visible when Dr. Armitage and Dr. Rice exposed it to a powder. The material had a very specific chemical composition – Dr. Armitage knew how to make the material through his investigations into the Necronomicon and Wilbur’s diary. It is unlikely that any material (talcum powder, coal ash) would have had the same effect. The powder that Dr. Armitage made was very specific in making Wilbur’s twin visible. Unfortunately, we know nothing of the chemical composition or nature of this compound. However, some research into Dr. Armitage’s notes at Miskatonic University may shed light on this subject (pardon the pun).
Next time we will discuss the actual appearance and biological nature of Wilbur’s twin once it was made visible. Thank you – Fred.
The Dunwich Horror (www.destructoid.com)