Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fascinating Inventions No. 9 – Night vision goggles

If soldiers had to fight in the nightime, things got difficult because they could not see much. So, maybe someone would light a fire or switch on a torch and OOOPS! Bit of a giveaway. Night-vision goggles developed out of second world war technology and became the brilliantly useful bits of kit they are today
- Look! I can see my yacht!
- Look! There's an owl!
- Look! Watch out for that wild cat!

Course, somewhere in Dexter's bedroom is a pair of night-vision goggles. The trouble is, he cannot find them because of all the other high-tech toys he has lying around. If he could find them, he would have no trouble getting to the loo at night or spying on his tankful of exotic fish in the dark or even reading a book without the light on because night vision goggles take all the hassle out of darkness. The way they work is like this:
They boost up the light already around and collect it to focus on an image intensifier. This is amazing because then inside this intensifier the light particles get over-excited and bump into a sort of green TV screen and then give you an image.
BUT I hear you shout. What happens when I go caving or need to have a quick spy round a derelict warehouse where there is no light at all? The answer is get an infra-red illuminator as this will generate enough light to give you an image. During world war two when infrared sight was a baby, the army made an infrared sniper scope BUT it needed an infrared searchlight that was so big it had to be carried on a flatbed truck. Luckily things have got a lot smaller since then.

I have my doubts about using night-vision goggles during the day (see picture) because

a. It makes you look a bit mad e.g. like you might just have run away from having your eyes tested/you could just have had major brain surgery and should still actually be in hospital/ somebody is testing the latest scaffolding technique on your face. None of the above looks cool.
AND then there is
b. if you are doing a bit of spying it sort of gives the game away

On the plus side you do get to look like a human-robot-cyborg, so maybe it is not all bad.

Anyway, the greatest place in the universe is having a science of spying exhibtion until September. I am definitely off to get some tips.


Susan Abraham said...

Hi Wilfy,
How's Miranda?
Still popping over to tea in the guise of an undercover operation?
btw, just wait till you get to my age.
Like a great Aunt Maude...
you'll be wearing them goggles daytime too!
Big kiss!

Richard said...

I wants me one of these! Though I do take your point about them giving the game away if worn during the daytime.

When I was knee high to a Brussels Sprout, I had the coolest book on spying techniques ever. I loved that book more than anything. I loved it so much that it fell to pieces after I'd had it only two weeks and had only been able to try out a couple of the techniques (talc in the hair to make you look old, hair over the door to see if someone had broken in).

So I wrote to the publisher and, lovely fellas that they wer, they sent me a whole new copy! In hardback this time. I loved this new book as much as the previous one. In fact, I loved it so much that, despite its sturdy cover and doughty binding, it fell to pieces within a month.

As I am now a master spy, I no longer need either of these books and will happily pass them onto you. However, you'll have to sort the pages into order yourself, if that's alright.

Jude said...

Cool goggles. Wilf are you thinking of going underground- secret agent Wilf?

Atyllah said...

Ooh, Wilf, if I saw you walking down the road wearing one of those contraptions, I'd either be obliged to stay and fight or run away as fast as my legs would carry me!

You know, I don't know why humans don't just get on with evolving rather than wasting their time developing gadgets. After all, all evolved species see equally well in the dark as they do in the day. No need for facial scaffolding!

Wilf said...

Actually Susan I would not mind wearing the goggles now. But Dexter's pair are rubbish - they cost £9.99 at Argos and use batteries.
Getting old must be awful, you seem to have to do a lot of kissing.

Wilf said...

I love books on spying, Richard and I like puzzles so I am sure I could sort everything out. The spy stuff might be a bit ancient, I expect, because you had it when you were a brussel sprout but maybe it is only the gadgets that change.

Wilf said...

I am not sure, Jude. I think they have some goggles at the 'Science of Spying' exhibition and I really want to try them on. I am going to take a photo as well. If they are good I might think about spying as a job.

Wilf said...

The thing about gadgets, Atyllah is that they are fun, as well as being quite helpful sometimes. Although I do have an idea for a formula involving carrots and phosphorous which might help with the evolution of night-sight. I could try feeding it to the sticks first and see what happens.

Saaleha said...

Ah Wilf, you young boys and your interest in gadgets. But this is a really cool gadget. A marvel, we could say. I think they could come in handy when teaching the double dealing Miranda a lesson.

Addy, very witty post. Lovely stuff.

Wilf said...

THanks, Saleeha!

Matthew said...

Picture looks smashing there Addy, and Wilf sounds like a champ. If not too much like me now... at 23.

Wilf said...

Thanks, Matthew for the pic and the comment!

Bobbit said...

Nice, check out my site for more information about night vision technology and night vision goggles.