twitter join us on facebook win prizes
Search our site
The Course of History Ten Meals That Changed the World by Struan Stevenson, Tony Singh Read the opening extract of the brand new Struan Stevenson, Tony Singh book before its publication on 24/10/2017

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen by Philip Ball

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Popular Science   

RRP £25.00

Notify me
when in stock

As soon as this book is back in stock we will send you an email.

Lovereading view...

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


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.


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 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.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

31st July 2014


Philip Ball

More books by Philip Ball
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...


The Bodley Head Ltd an imprint of Vintage Publishing


336 pages


Popular science



Lovereading is like booking a holiday, you don't know what it will be like and it is a whole new experience.

Sue Burton

Lovereading is an amazing place to be, the website is wonderful and to me if I'm sad I'll go here and it cheers me up!

Sophia Upton

Lovereading tells me about new books before they hit the shelves, lets me find other authors I may like and has great prize draws!

Sheila Dale

Lovereading does a stella job in promoting both new and established authors.

Iris Clements

I 'Lovereading' because it lets me see what new books are around with a detailed synopsis and readers' reviews.

Judith Sharp

It's information about new books so, for a book lover like me, what's not to like!

Joan Hill

I love that Lovereading handpicks very special debut reads.

Magda North

With literary excellence, humour and drama, Lovereading's got value and is a real stress-calmer!

Siobhan McDowell