Invisible: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen
by Philip Ball
University of Chicago Press, 2015 (($27.50))
Humans have always imagined the invisible—whether spirits that are summoned or appeased, intangible ether suffusing the universe, or x-rays, magnetic forces and microbes that can be put to work. Science writer Ball takes readers through history to show how myths and legends of the invisible, along with the science of each time period, have influenced our quest to understand what we cannot see. His narrative explores the earliest spells and recipes for supposedly creating or penetrating invisibility, and it recalls disappearance illusions on stage, screen and battlefield, as well as humankind's many theories about invisible entities both real and imagined—such as germs, ghosts and dark matter. Finer tools and measurements through the ages have made our understanding of the imperceptible particles and forces in the world much more precise and actionable—but no less astonishing.