Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Philip Ball


Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

  • Title: Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen
  • Author: Philip Ball
  • ISBN: 9781847922892
  • Page: 173
  • Format: Hardcover



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 , have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility Precisely because it points to realms beyond our senses, the notiIf 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 , 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.


Recent Comments "Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen"

I’m puzzled by this book. It’s a careful study of the subject of invisibility, and quite a comprehensive one. But, below the surface, it’s sort of a mess and the subject—or subjects—are presented in a way that creates more confusion than new knowledge. I approached the book excited, as I’m writing a Sci-Fi story that involves invisibility. And I wanted to know what’s known about the topic; the book fell providentially in my hands. Rather than dealing with the subject of invisibilit [...]

Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen (2014) by the polymath Philip Ball is a collection of essays that explores and seeks to illuminate the desires to understand and ultimately control the invisible forces all around us. From Tolkien’s and Gyge’s magic rings, morals of Glaucon, cloaks of invisibility, invisible children, occult forces and sacred magic, theological thermodynamics, the invisible men of science fiction, natural camouflage, time bandits, the Holy Spirit, X-rays, and to [...]

Enjoyable. One thing I wish this book had covered (not least because Ball is a wonderfully lucid writer, with flashes of very dry humour) is the issue of being rendered invisible – a passive actor in another's world, so to speak – as opposed to being the protagonist, and trying to figure out how to make oneself invisible. Polly Toynbee worked as a chambermaid once, and was quite shocked (iirc) to discover that people who knew her IRL swept right past her. (This may be someone else. Too lazy [...]

Imagine the alluring possibility of having some special object (some magic ring, helmet, cloak or similar device) which could make one invisible at will. Its allure lies in its potential for voyeurism and illicit sexual adventures; its promise to facilitate undetected trickery, mischief, robbery, and even murder; to provide personal protection from impending danger; and ultimately as a means of achieving and establishing ultimate power and control over others. The idea appears to sanction absolu [...]

Ball's complex book examines invisibility as it plays across many fields of knowledge: religion (Christianity's holy spirit); folklore (demons and fairies); literature (H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man) and pop culture (magic, seances, movies and TV shows). But the bulk of his book explores the concept of invisibility in the world of science. The theory of gravity, the concept of dark matter, quantum physics, the world of microbes - all require us to believe in something that is, unseen by the nak [...]

It is a book dedicated on how invisibility persisted since antiquity of human civilization and played role in enchanting people and also instilling a curiosity among those who were able to ask the right questions thus helping to unravel many of Nature's hidden wonders. It is a fun read especially how author gave importance to all sorts of invisibility along with moral values & curiosity associated with it, yet I felt that Author could have done better to balance the transition from orthodox [...]

Invisble is an overview of the invisible. Ball takes a historical approach to documenting invisibility spells, x-rays, string theory, etc.The title "the dangerous allure of the unseen" makes no sense at all, and I suspect it's one of those instances in which the American title is made more dramatic than the more sensible (one assumes) British subtitle.The most admirable thing about this book is probably just the core focus -- things that are invisible -- but today's standard of popular non-ficti [...]

Un ensayo que compré y comencé a leer para descansar de los temas históricos y sociológicos y no solo me ha sorprendido sino que me ha fascinado por completo. Leído en dos días. Muy bueno.

3.5 starsThe central theme of human fascination with the 'invisible' turns out to have a lot of wiggle room, as Ball starts with medieval magic, transitions to Victorian-era science and spirituality, quantum mechanics, and then ends with the quest for a modern-day invisibility cloak, which of course looks nothing like the pop culture version but happens to meet the strict definition of creating an appearance that certain types of wavelengths have passed through without being refracted/reflected [...]

The ability to become invisible has been a fascination of the human race for millennia. But what would you do if you could vanish from sight? Would you use your new found power or abuse it? In this book, Philip Ball has mixed science and history to reveal this subject. Starting with the myths and legends of Plato, before moving through the occult fascination of the dark and middle ages, and ends up with the Victorians and their captivation with ghosts, fairies, magic and auras. Following the his [...]

This was an interesting and fun book that turned out to have a bit more to it than I had expected. I was expecting it to be a romp through the folklore and science of invisibility with lots of interesting stories and cautionary tales, and it delivered on those promises, but it also nicely explicates and defends Ball's thesis that there is a deep connection between the mythology and science of invisibility. The folklore of invisibility has spurred scientific research, and many leading scientists [...]

I began reading this book from the library but needed a longer time to digest it so I bought a copy and I am glad because it is very dense and requires careful reading. The author, a Brit, understands all aspects of things that are invisible--their history, literature, mythology, occult sciences, and physical and biological sciences and describes how people have considered things that are invisible throughout western cultural history. What is fun about this book is how all these elements are com [...]

Holy moly. It took me a while to get through that book, but it's good. It goes through invisibility's role in culture from phantasmagoria & magician's tricks, talismans & potions, animal & military camouflage, ghosts, hallucinations & hypnotic manipulations, bending light or camera projections or other physics/technology things of the modern world I wish they would have spent more time on hallucinations & hypnosis, but the rest was really very thorough. A little dense, but by [...]

What a wonderful and diverse book: Ball covers so many possible mutations of the question of invisibility that it's exhausting. Some chapters of Invisible are stellar introductions to complex subjects with deep archival histories. I loved those chapters! The ability to synthesize a complex idea with flair and respect is rare indeed, and when he's on, Ball does it well. However some chapters feel weightless and tired, and those chapters well, not my favourite. I'd say that for many readers this i [...]

review: theguardian/books/2014

This was not nearly as interesting as it sounded when the author was being interviewed on the radio. I didn't finish it- it was very dry.

535.1 B1877 2015


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    Posted by:Philip Ball
    Published :2018-08-04T12:25:36+00:00