"Demons" have long been part of the thought experiments that are a vital part of the creative, intellectual process in modern science. These hypothetical beings imagined by scientists have been used to explore what would happen if one fiddled with or upset the sturdiest of physical laws, have helped clarify the limits of what is possible and revealed cracks in a hypothesis or theory.
... captivating ... Canales’s chapter on quantum theory includes a dazzling exploration of demons in the work of Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Max Planck, and other scientists ... a brilliant, challenging overview of the myth-driven scientific endeavors that transform human understandings of the world.
The opening chapters...deftly sprint through centuries of scientific history in the course of introducing the...demons of Descartes, Laplace and Maxwell. But the book’s pace becomes more relaxed once it arrives at the 20th century ... Canales’s impressive facility with the problems and personalities of 20th-century physics serves her story well at this point. In the hands of a lesser scholar, pandemonium would threaten to take hold in the book’s concluding chapters ... Canales remains a steady, if less leisurely, guide ... Bedeviled admirably insists on recording the plain history of science. It just so happens that the history of that most rational of human endeavors reads at times like a Gothic tale, one replete with evil geniuses, time travelers and uncanny intelligences lurking in reality’s obscure corners.
... [for]technologies that threaten human existence, the use of demons feels appropriate...their very identity suggests the workings of a mischievous or malevolent force. Perhaps no group of scientists better understood that than the men and women of the Manhattan Project...and Canales is fascinating on their ethical deliberations ... Chasing every mention of the word 'demon' makes Canales’s census threaten to approach the millions and trillions counted in Reformation-era demonologies, but not every invocation of the word carries an analogous meaning ... Canales’s conclusion, though, does much to redeem her encyclopedic approach ... scientists, like novelists and philosophers, sometimes work best in speculative modes.