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From Infrared to X-rays, the Curious History of Invisible Light

Bob Berman

The universe is literally made of light

One hundred years after they were written, Marie Curie’s notebooks are still too radioactive to handle

In 1974 we sent a message to star cluster M13. If any aliens respond promptly, we’ll hear from them in 52000

From world-altering discoveries of the past to the wonderful science of the present, Bob Berman zooms across the universe to tell the story of invisible light. He reveals what microwaves from smartphones do to our brains, how birds use ultraviolet light to track prey, why gamma rays are the most powerful form of light, and so much more. Replete with amazing characters and mindboggling quantum leaps, Zapped offers a teasing peek into the future and some of the startling technologies we might yet live to see.

  • Publication date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073730
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 272
  • Publication date: May 3, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073747
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 272


‘A fascinating and entertaining book for anyone curious about the seen and unseen world of electromagnetism.’

BBC Sky at Night

‘A rip-roaring ride along the electromagnetic highway. Inspiring and insightful.’

Colin Stuart, author of The Big Questions in Science

‘The narrative is briskly conversational: we’re on the porch, shooting the breeze with a knowledgeable neighbour. Mr. Berman’s avowed goal in writing this book, he says, was “to open a window onto the enormous universe of omnipresent energies”. Once that window is thrown open, it is hard to look at the world the same way.’

Wall Street Journal

‘Nimbly busts common myths… Erudite but never stuffy, Berman writes with enthusiasm and clarity, making this an informative and digestible read for the science-curious.’


‘Captivating…fear not the long-winded scientific discourse: Berman zings through historical and scientific adventures.’

American Scholar

‘[Berman is] an unfailingly congenial explainer, always ready with the kinds of fascinating facts his readers might have missed in school.’

Christian Science Monitor

‘An enthusiastic account… deftly separates fact from myths about cell-phones, brain scans, and other sources of radiation.’


‘Astronomy writer Berman runs through a fascinating history of the rainbow’s invisible bands in this breezy, accessible read... In the style of a favorite professor, Berman injects bits of odd humor and captivating tangents into this complex but familiar topic.’

Publishers Weekly

‘Like any good pop science book, along the way Zapped offers an endless series of tidbits, from how GPS works to how a software glitch led to the worst incident of radiation poisoning from a medical device (the notorious Therac-25).’

New Republic

‘[Berman] excels at making complex concepts accessible for lay readers…this is a great option for those curious about history, theories, and function of everyday things.’

Library Journal

‘Explaining light using anecdotal history and colloquial explication, Zapped makes entertaining sense out of what could be dry maths and physics.’

Shelf Awareness

Bob Berman

Bob Berman is a leading astronomy writer and the author of Zoom and The Sun’s Heartbeat. He contributed the popular ‘Night Watchman’ column for Discover for seventeen years and is currently a columnist for Astronomy, a host on Northeast Public Radio and science editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. He lives in Willow, New York.

Author page

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