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In Which I Talk to a Ghost

“Do you show up on NODs,” I asked the ghost.

To be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure a ghost was there. There was little to indicate the presence of anyone but myself, and what little there was could be easily construed as something else. The only light in the room was filtered from distant headlights through the fence and the trees and the window, so it was no surprise that the shadows sometimes shifted.

Still, shift they did, in ways that sometimes seemed purposeful. That, and the desire to live in a more fantastic world. I could play games and talk about the sense you get when someone approaches silently behind you in a room but you still infer their presence subliminally from their breath and heartbeat, but it wouldn’t describe the scene properly. That sense wasn’t triggering because there was certainly nobody corporeal in the room with me; a flick of the lightswitch would have been enough to confirm that. Still, that sense might have a little used cousin, that deals more with potentiality than physicality. If such a thing actually exists, then it was going nuts; I had the strong impression that I might not be alone, that if I wanted it enough and was prepared to accept that kind of reality, I might get a response.

The sensible thing was to ask.

We abbreviate Night Vision Goggle as NOD, because NVG is unpronounceable and NOG is a holiday drink. They’re surprisingly simple and analog: the lens feeds the sensor feeds the amplifier feeds the phosphor screen. This all happens in a very thin column, duplicated across enough elements to form a useful image. Their response starts at the blue middle of the rainbow, increases to a peak in the near infrared, and tails off a bit thereafter.

I suppose I asked because it would reveal something of the nature of ghosts. A yes probably wouldn’t mean that they’re plainly visible in infrared, just that whatever patterns of form and shadow they’re made of exist physically even if they do not. A no, on the other hand, would imply something special about human vision, or the absence of the visible spectrum. An ‘I don’t know’ would have been most convincing that a ghost really was present, but would otherwise be unhelpful. Lack of response would imply that even if a ghost really was there, they weren’t feeling conversational.

As I thought about all this and started to properly wake up, the shadows on the wall twisted, and the heater rumbled on.

By that point, though, I couldn’t tell what the answer meant.

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1 Comment

Comment by Shep Windows XP Mozilla Firefox 3.0.6 Subscribed to comments via email
2009-02-25 15:45:47

IIRC the sense of a presence in an empty room can be triggered by the presence of low-frequency magnetic fields – I don’t remember whether any particular artificial sources exist, but there are areas where such fields are produced by the local geology.

 

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