X is for X-Ray Vision

The X-ray was discovered a little over a century ago. Getting an X-ray is something we take as commonplace at the dentist’s office or at a medical lab, but it was the quite amazing, and accidental, discovery. And it has helped produce some pretty nifty art effects such as The X-Ray Vision of Nick Veasey, from which this image was taken.

But that’s not what I really want to talk about.

I’m more interested in the notion of “X-ray vision”. As the Wikipedia entry explains, it’s a bit of a misnomer: “Although called X-ray vision, this power has little to do with the actual effect of X-rays. Instead, it is usually presented as the ability to selectively see through certain objects as though they are invisible, translucent or not present, in order to see objects or surfaces beyond or deep to the affected object or material.” This is NOT the way actual X-rays work: “The visions seen [in X-ray vision] are generally in full color and three-dimensional. How such an effect might be created via x-rays is unexplained (the x-rays from the viewer’s eyes would need to bounce back to his eyes the same way as normal light reflects off objects and into the viewer’s eyes: x-rays simply pass through an object and continue on their way.”

The fascination with X-ray vision, in “science fiction stories or superhero comics” has imbedded itself in the minds of the public so thoroughly that a Google search will glean thousands of examples. Mark Evanier points to x-ray glasses and other mail-order mysteries from the stuff you order from comic book ads and the like, which is lots of fun. But it’s not just a ruse from the olden days. On YouTube, you will find Tiny Filter Gives Cellphone Cameras X-Ray Vision. Well, no. There is another technology at work whereby one can see Kim Kardashian’s underwear, but X-ray vision it is not. Ditto this Little Dot cover.

Of course, the best known character with X-ray vision is the Man of Steel, as noted in comic book, TV show and on film. “Superman can see through walls to see the bad guys beyond, or see through Lois Lane’s dress to determine the colour of her underwear (in Superman: The Movie, Warner Brothers, 1978).” Superman’s cousin, Supergirl is similarly blessed, or cursed, with this ability, evidently.

I suppose I too have fantasized about having that power and ability far beyond that of mortal man. But I would only use the power for good, not anything inappropriate. Or so I tell myself.

What superhero power would YOU want to have?

ABC Wednesday team

0 thoughts on “X is for X-Ray Vision”

  1. Ooooooooooooooh the power of X-Ray vision? And you would use it FOR GOOD????? lol oh right Roger! And when I win the lottery I will share it with you OK – 50/50!!!!!! Love it!
    Thanks for this, as ever entertaining and believeable!



  2. I’ve always wanted to fly!!! (Freud, Jung would have a field day with this one…). So I travel. It’s not nearly the next best thing but it will have to do for now. Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2012.


  3. I once wrote a story about the enhanced ability to feel – tell a person is lying by touching his hand, feel air moving behind you before someone attacks, etc. I think I was about eleven and my teacher said it was rubbish.
    What do they know? 🙂


  4. I’ve always wondered about that as a kid (and not a regular reader of Superman comics): can he switch it off at will? Otherwise that would be awkward and make watching TV really hard.

    I’d like to be able to shapeshift, but more like Odo than say, Mystique. Shapeshifting that way contains a lot of other superpowers, like flight and invisibility.


  5. Roger, Roger, Roger…I’m surprised at you for putting a risque cartoon on here! LOL Just kidding! Great eXcellent post – informative and humourous at the same time! Hope your Xmas was great!


  6. I used to want to be invisible. Then, somewhere between middle age and old age pension, I realized old ladies ARE invisible. Nobody pays any attention to us. These days, nobody pays us any attention even to the extent of holding open doors for us because it’s considered politically incorrect unless we have wheelchairs or perhaps walkers.
    Now I don’t want to be invisible any more.
    If could choose a super-power, it would be self-healing. According to my youngest brother, a Marvel Comics super-hero named Wolverine had/has(?) accelerated healing powers. (I had to phone my brother to find out the name, but I did remember hearing about such a hero.)
    X-ray vision vs self-healing? No contest, Roger. Sorry!


  7. Yes, I must confess that as a teenager dreaming of glasses to see the girls naked.
    I hope you had a nice and happy Christmas, it will look very happy, I think 2012 will be a very good year.


  8. Oh, sigh, I have to agree with Kay that wanting to be invisible doesn’t hold much attraction when you finally reach the age where you ARE invisible, – but hang in there Kay, – once you get ancient people start paying attention again and holding doors for you and admiring your cane and making sure that you are comfortable!!!


  9. I remember my first X-ray. I was no more than three years old. I remember a lot of things from when I was very young perhaps because of the traumatic experience of being in the hospital for about 6 months from ages 2-3yrs. I had TB (in a neck gland)from drinking milk fresh from the farm before all cattle were tuberculin tested. I guess they were x-raying my lungs looking for signs of TB there. Thanks for visiting my blog Roger. Yours are always so informative.


  10. ooooooo, love the Supergirl cartoon! LOL! If I had a choice, I would want to be able to heal someone physically, mentally or emotionally. I would leave the spiritually up to a higher power. 😉


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