Thanks to the wonderful node by StopTheViolins on the electromagnetic spectrum, a thought came to my mind about those various plot/scifi cliches where the whole plot revolves around a device's ability to stop time.

One would initially think that to stop time, you would stop time for the entire universe. Not so. One could generate a pocket in which all time would cease. But what is the ceasing? Shows represent it in a cessation of all movement. But at what level does the movement cease? Macro? Micro? Nano? Subatomic? In most cases, this does not appear to affect light, but this is where they are (most likely) wrong.

Now the electromagnetic spectrum comes into play. In all the shows with the bad plots, when time freezes, the people with the device are immune to the effects. They can see everything. One would assume that they are in a micropocket of unaffected space. This is all well and good, but now, assuming this does, in fact, affect the electromagnetic spectrum, light itself would be stopped before reaching the pocket. What would one see when looking out of the pocket upon the world?


At least, nothing in the visible sense. Assuming you stopped time totally, light would not be able to reach your eyes until you passed through the space in your pocket, at which point it would pass through, bounce off you, and exit, immediately being frozen again (you probably would leave condensed trails of light as you moved). For things to remain visible, you would have to slow time relative to the EM spectrum. You could slow down time enough for light, at its peak visible frequency, to about 810 THz. Everything would appear as either black, or dark red. As you moved, things behind you would appear even darker, while what is in front of you would be lighter. The doppler effect, first hand, as your living room does a red-shift in front of you.


Now assuming the genius with the device was actually SMART, he would bring with him (or her) a pair of infrared goggles. This allows you to slow time down enough that the lower edge of the infrared range is visible. Sans goggles, everything would be black, because light, now being down to 300GHz, would no longer register in the eye. But with your goggles, which converts the now slow light back to visible light, allows you to see.

Below this wonderful range would take special equipment, after a while eventually requiring a TV (modified, of course), to maybe navigating with a radio, as the frequency of light gets lower and lower, as time gets slower and slower relative to you, to the point that you stop time. At which point light stops moving, and you are stuck in the dark.