Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics Invisible: The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics by Philip Ball
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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 historical part, Ball moves onto the modern ages with several interesting chapters on the advent of radio transmissions, on radiation and X-rays, the discovery of bacteria and viruses following the invention of the microscope. There is a chapter on the evolution of military camouflage, from the bright reds and blues of the army, and how they ended up with the drab khaki colours for armies. The naval part is quite good, with photos on some of the mad ideas that they had to hide boats and ships from the enemy. The stealth aircraft these days manage to look like something the size of a golf ball on a radar screen, quite amazing given their size.

Overall it is a good book. I felt that he spent a little too long on the historical detail, and I would have preferred much more on the modern technologies that scientists and engineers are using to make people and object disappear from sight. Worth reading though, as all Philips Ball’s book are.

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