Since a certain show ended with the main answer to the burning questions being “light” I’ve been a bit miffed. Who would have thought that a word as simple as “light” could be ambiguous? When it comes to language, scientists are precise bunch. How can we have a meaningful discussion about a topic if we’re not thinking of a concept in the same way? Imagine you were having a debate about the Green Lantern (a light based hero, I might add) but one of you was thinking Alan Scott and the other was thinking of Kyle Rainer. You’d get it sorted out eventually but it would have saved you both some frustration if you’d bothered to establish which GL was up for discussion.
So what kind of light are we talking about now? There are two varieties: what we can see as humans vs. the whole rest of it. What humans can see actually encompasses a very small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Take a look at the diagram below, the visible portion of the spectrum is really kinda tiny. There's a lof of room to explore and since the visible light spectrum is only arbitrarily defined by our own eyes and minds I’d like to take into account the entire spectrum, including the visible, for the remainder of the article.
By using this definition alone we’ve already upped the ante for our key player, Dr. Light. If you’re unfamiliar with his back-story it’s a pretty typical villain route. Evil physicist steals suit that gives him control over light. Eventually he internalizes the power and doesn’t need the suit anymore. He was widely regarded as a buffoon until it was rectonnned that he’d been magically lobotomized after doing some really heinous stuff back in the day. I’m going to assume a physicist would know about light, but if he’d been made dumber maybe he forgot and needs a refresher.
Since Dr. Light can control light, and we’ve just modified our definition of light to a more scientific bent, we’ve just opened the door for some interesting uses of our villainous Dr.’s powers. Previous creative teams have attempted to make Dr. Light a more legitimate threat, explaining away his buffoonery with complex plots of sexual misconduct and mental manipulation, but really they may have needed nothing more than some good science advising to make Dr. Light a truly potent player. Let’s look at some of other types of light and how the not-so-good Doctor could make use of them to wreak is particular brand of havoc.
Starting on the end with the longest wavelength and lowest frequency we have radio waves. Yup, those are light. Crazy, right? I’ve had a hard time thinking of a cool way Dr. Light could use radio waves as a weapon. I suppose he could create some sort of crazy War of the Worlds style hoax and broadcast it from himself but that seems more in line with a Flash Rogue than Dr. Light. And who listens to the radio anymore these days? So a fine power, good for a gag, but maybe not much more. I suppose he could jam communications if the people chasing him were using walkie-talkies. That’d be pretty nifty!
Now we’re getting nasty with microwaves. Like all EM waves, these guys contain energy. This energy can be imparted to other things if it collides with their atoms. If you’re goal is to give another object an energy boost then these are a good type of wave to use because their long wavelength means they’re more lightly to collide with the atoms in an object while passing through it. That’s exactly what’s happening when food is placed in your home microwave oven. The screen in the microwave is effective at protecting things outside the microwave because the holes of the screen are much too small for a wave that size to fit through. The same way a keyhole doesn’t let in as much light as a large window. Now do you understand why you can’t dry your hand-towels in the microwave? It’s not a drying heat, just an energy imparter. Fun fact: The microwave is the best tool in your house for cleaning your sponges. Nothing can survive inside it, but be careful picking the thing back up, it’ll be HOT. Speaking of nothing surviving, Dr. Light could use this part of the spectrum to cook your face. I imagine this would hurt. A lot. If you find yourself in this situation, ask him to just go straight to cooking the brain, at least the brain has no pain receptors. It wouldn’t hurt as much.
Infrared isn’t quite not quite the offensive powerhouse as microwave, but maybe still pretty useful from a tactical standpoint. If you’ve played any of these new fangled modern warfare videogames you’ll know that sometimes you want to use a gun with an infrared scope to penetrate a smoke barrier or see enemies at night. So I guess Dr. Light has night vision? He could plausibly have heat vision if instead of firing a blast of infrared light out of his hands he used his eyes instead. He could give really warm hugs but with his history you probably don’t want that. I guess the closer you get to visible light the less exotic the powers seem. Oh well, moving on…
Visible light is what we’re used to seeing with Dr. Light. It’s his typical milieu. If you’re unfamiliar with how he generally uses his powers I’d suggest reading Identity Crisis and the Teen Titans story arc that followed collected in Vol. 4 The Future is Now. I enjoyed both these books a good bit, check 'em out.
UV is much like infrared: Not that exciting. The best you could really do is sterilizing some stuff, and throw a really killer rave. And confuse insects that can see in the UV spectrum. Oh man, you could make so much honey. Not really that evil though; unless you steal the honey from the bees, like some kind of bee-keeper. An evil bee-keeper.
Because it wouldn't make sense otherwise, the image to the right is an X-ray of a Bee's brain. I thought it was a nice bridge between topics.
X-Ray’s if used for evil would be pretty nasty. Not only could Dr. Light see your bones (ok, that’s not really that bad) but he could mess with your DNA, and that really is that bad. It may not seem that bad, you get X-rayed every time you go to the dentist. But I doubt Dr. Light is gonna let you wear a nice lead apron and only hit you in the jaw for a millisecond. X-Rays have this bad tendency of breaking DNA, your body is good at repairing the damage but even breaks over a long enough period of time and your body might make a mistake. A mistake in a cell’s DNA can cause the cell to replicate uncontrollably, which is cancer. I bet Dr. Light is the kind of jerk who blasts the guy at the coffee shop every day when he gets his latte just to give the dude cancer in a few years.
Last up with the shortest wavelength and highest frequency are gamma rays. Basically Dr. Light should be able to create his own Hulks. ‘nuff said? Nah, let’s say more. Outside of the Marvel Universe gamma radiation is pretty potent stuff. Radiation poisoning seems right up Dr. Light’s brand of evil too. Dying this way is just awful. You’d be asking Dr. Light to finish you off with the microwave after about 12-24 hours depending on the dose he gave you. It literally gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it and I’m glad the bad Doctor has yet to figure it out.
That's all the light we have for now. I hope this look into my brain hasn’t scared you too badly. I realize I could have done the exact same article using the hero version of Dr. Light, Kimiyo Hoshi, but we all know she’d never use her powers like this even if she knew she could. If you have a hero or villain whose powers you’d like me to explore or you have an opinion of your own, let me hear it!