Invisibility: The History and Science of How Not to Be Seen (Hardcover)

Invisibility: The History and Science of How Not to Be Seen By Gregory J. Gbur Cover Image

Invisibility: The History and Science of How Not to Be Seen (Hardcover)


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A lively exploration of how invisibility has gone from science fiction to fact
Is it possible for something or someone to be made invisible? This question, which has intrigued authors of science fiction for over a century, has become a headline-grabbing topic of scientific research.
In this book, science writer and optical physicist Gregory J. Gbur traces the science of invisibility from its sci-fi origins in the nineteenth-century writings of authors such as H. G. Wells and Fitz James O’Brien to modern stealth technology, invisibility cloaks, and metamaterials. He explores the history of invisibility and its science and technology connections, including the discovery of the electromagnetic spectrum, the development of the atomic model, and quantum theory. He shows how invisibility has moved from fiction to reality, and he questions the hidden paths that lie ahead for researchers.
This is not only the story of invisibility but also the story of humankind’s understanding of the nature of light itself, and of the many fascinating figures whose discoveries advanced this knowledge.
Gregory J. Gbur is professor of physics and optical science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is the author of Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics, and he writes two blogs on horror fiction, physics, and nature. He lives in Charlotte, NC.
Product Details ISBN: 9780300250428
ISBN-10: 0300250428
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication Date: April 11th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English
“Entertaining. . . . A robust examination of a fascinating field of research.”—Publishers Weekly

“The dual nature (particle and wave properties) of light, reflection and refraction, imaging technologies, modern stealth aircraft, and fascinating metamaterials are all discussed. Beginning in 2006, interest among scientists in invisibility cloaking escalated as they ascertained whether it’s actually possible. . . . Might its applicability be destined primarily for military use or nefarious intentions? In his conclusion, Gbur wittily predicts that ‘the future of invisibility is very hard to see.’”—Tony Miksanek, Booklist

“Gbur presents a strong argument about the innovative, imaginative value of sci-fi, and invisibility is the perfect case study.”—Engineering & Technology

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Book, Spring 2023 Announcements Issue

Invisibility is such an addictive book, packed with smart and weird science, literature and culture, Greg Gbur’s elegant prose, and the fascinating question of whether we may one day be able to achieve that long-held dream of vanishing in a shimmer of light.”—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the 20th Century

“A lovely, well-informed book on the science and fiction of invisibility.”—Ulf Leonhardt, author of Geometry and Light: The Science of Invisibility

“Greg Gbur weaves an engaging tapestry of literature, history, and physics to illustrate how an idea that has captivated human imagination for thousands of years may one day become a reality.”—Liz Heinecke, author of Radiant: The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light

“A well-written and engaging overview of the history of optics, taking the reader on a fascinating scientific journey.”—Andrea Alù, founding director of the Photonics Initiative at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center