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Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen by Philip Ball
  

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Popular Science   

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If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three, given the opportunity. But there's no need to feel guilty. This title tells the history of invisibility in our culture.

If you like Philip Ball you might also like to read books by Guillermo Martinez.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. In his preface, acclaimed polymathic science writer Phillip Ball quotes from a Japanese story that describes the effect two venerable kabuki actors had upon an audience. In miming his delight on beholding the moon, the first drew appreciative murmurs from the crowd for his elegant technique, but the second elicited something greater – silence – as the audience envisaged the moon and disregarded the actor. The same, he observes, applies to writers who can immerse the reader in the story without making them aware of their technique. Ball achieves this admirably in this survey of our fascination with invisibility and with unseen forces in science, nature and the esoteric arts. It covers such diverse examples as the Cottingley Fairies, Victorian spiritualism, and the adaptability of the chameleon, as well as optical camouflage technologies devised by the military, and the ‘magic’ of molecular energy. In doing so, he reveals that such myths enable us to explore what is achievable and to realise those dreams in the real world.
~ Paul Roland

Synopsis

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen by Philip Ball

If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three, given the opportunity. But there's no need to feel guilty. Because these impulses, and plenty more, have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility. Precisely because it points to realms beyond our senses, the notion of invisibility has long performed as a receptacle for fears and dreams, as something that hints at worlds where other rules apply; and as a mighty power and a terrible curse, a sexual promise, a spiritual condition. This is a history of invisibility in our culture. It takes in Plato, the occult in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, Shakespearian ghosts, ether and cathode rays and nineteenth-century science, spiritualism, electromagnetism, H.G. Wells, the microscopic world, camouflage, prestidigitation and twenty-first century nanoscience. Here is everything you've ever wanted to know about the invisible - from the medieval to the cutting-edge, fairy tales to telecommunications, from beliefs about the supernatural to the discovery of dark energy.

Reviews

As a harvest of fascinating facts delivered with sharp wit and insight, it is hard to fault -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst Daily Telegraph Intriguing -- John Carey Sunday Times A fascinating compendium... Another author might struggle to manage such an esoteric collection [of stories of invisibility] but Mr Ball's writing is incisive enough to keep the different elements hanging and working together The Economist Ball marshals his material with deftness and charm Literary Review [A] fantastic feast of ideas and information on the subject... In this enthralling book, Philip Ball's elegant and intelligent mastery...is very evident indeed Evening Standard


About the Author

Formerly on the staff of Nature, Philip Ball is now a full-time writer. He lives in London.

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Book Info

Publication date

31st July 2014

Author

Philip Ball

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Author's Website

www.philipball.co.uk

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Publisher

The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing

Format

Hardback
336 pages

Categories

Popular science

ISBN

9781847922892

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