Invisible Visible
Invisible Visible
  • Lee Kong-ju-bock
  • 승인 2019.11.25 20:05
  • 수정 2019.11.26 01:29
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Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences
Lee Kong-ju-bock Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences.
Lee Kong-ju-bock Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences.


One early morning, I saw a person putting on makeup standing in a very crowded subway. I often saw people putting on makeup while seated on public transportation, but it was the first time to see someone doing so on feet. My first response in thought was admiration of the skill. My second thought raised the question of whether it was private or not. I do not want to see someone applying makeup in public places since I think it is private. As far as I know, wearing makeup is to present better appearance and impression than bare face to others they know. Whenever I see people putting on makeup in public transportation, I would like to ask them if I am invisible to them. On the same day, I posted this story on my Facebook page to ask my friends the same question: Is the act of putting on makeup private? One of my friends linked me to his article “Street of invisible people”, The Holy Journal, 2015.07.14. His article also started with his experience of someone applying makeup in a bus. It was in line with my opinion.

In 2008, researchers at Microsoft confirmed the theory of six degrees of separation was almost right. The theory has said that we are linked by a chain of six acquaintances to others on the Earth. The researchers analyzed 30 billion electronic messages among 180 million people in many counties and obtained that degrees of separation between any two strangers were 6.6. Facebook conducted a survey on 721 million people with researchers at Cornell University in 2011 to measure the degrees of separation. They announced that the degrees of separation, on average, were 3.74. In 2016, Facebook again conducted the survey on 1.6 billion users. As easily expected, the degrees of separation decreased to 3.54, indicating that the world was getting narrower. It means that the Pope or a criminal of the century will also know me after three or four persons. Also someone who is invisible to you could be, in near future, your lover’s mother, job interviewer, or anyone who you do not want to expose your bare face. 

The history of women’s suffrage shows how long women have been invisible. Most major western countries allowed the right of women to vote in elections around the period of the World War I: Canada (1917), Britain and Germany (1918), Austria and the Netherlands (1919), and the United States of America (1920). It is quite notable that women in France, Greece, and Switzerland could finally vote since 1944, 1952, and 1971, respectively. Women in Korea acquired suffrage in 1948 and most recently, in 2015, Saudi Arabia granted women the right to vote. Now, the only country on Earth that does not recognize women’s suffrage is the Vatican City because only the cardinals around the world can vote for the Pope while women are not allowed to be cardinals. We all know that equality as a human being is not limited to the right to vote. Hence it is very shocking that women in most countries were first granted suffrage in the 20th century. 

Quantum revolution in physics started in 1900 when most women were invisible politically. Light known as electromagnetic waves in 19th century, unveiled as particles of photons. Einstein proposed the theory of relativity and gravitational wave. Schrödinger, Heisenberg, and many other physicists formulated and developed the quantum mechanics. Suddenly I imagine what would have happened during the quantum revolution of physics if women's suffrage was granted at the same time as men’s suffrage. Perhaps there would have been more women scientists as great as Madame Curie.

All the things around us, whatever made up of atoms, are said to be made of ordinary matter. Astrophysicists believe that the universe is filled with only 5% of ordinary matter, 25% of dark matter, and 70% of dark energy. There are no reasons to be treated as invisible to anyone, whether they are women, disables, children, or sexual minorities. We all are so humble in the universe and so close on the planet.

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