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Philip Ball

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Philip Ball


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Philip Ball (born 1962) is an English science writer. He holds a degree in chemistry from Oxford and a doctorate in physics from Bristol University. He was an editor for the journal Nature for over 10 years. He now writes a regular column in Chemistry World. Ball's most-popular book is the 2004 Critical Mass: How One Things Leads to Another, winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books. It examines a wide range of topics including the business cycle, random walks, phase transitions, bifurcation theory, traffic flow, Zipf's law, Small world phenomenon, catastrophe theory, the Prisoner's dilemma. The overall theme is one of applying modern mathematical models to social and economic phenomena. ...more

Philip Ball isn't a Goodreads Author (yet), but they do have a blog, so here are some recent posts imported from their feed.

The Spectator's review of The Book of Minds: a response

 

There is a reviewof The Book of Minds in The Spectator by philosopher Jane O’Grady. I have some thoughts about it.

First, it is always nice to have a review that engages with the book rather than just describes it. And O’Grady says some nice things about it. So I’m not unhappy with the review. 

But it does, I must say, seem to me a little odd, and occasionally wrong or misleading.

Odd primarily b

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Published on August 07, 2022 12:03
Average rating: 3.89 · 9,667 ratings · 1,069 reviews · 42 distinct worksSimilar authors
Critical Mass: How One Thin...

3.89 avg rating — 1,350 ratings — published 2003 — 14 editions
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Bright Earth: Art and the I...

4.05 avg rating — 1,148 ratings — published 1999 — 22 editions
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Beyond Weird

4.10 avg rating — 853 ratings — published 2018 — 18 editions
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The Music Instinct: How Mus...

3.95 avg rating — 823 ratings — published 2010 — 16 editions
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The Elements: A Very Short ...

3.84 avg rating — 264 ratings — published 2004 — 14 editions
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The Devil's Doctor: Paracel...

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3.85 avg rating — 262 ratings — published 2006 — 9 editions
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Life's Matrix: A Biography ...

4.03 avg rating — 249 ratings — published 1999 — 16 editions
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The Water Kingdom

3.71 avg rating — 270 ratings — published 2017 — 12 editions
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Curiosity: How Science Beca...

3.72 avg rating — 267 ratings — published 2012 — 15 editions
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Patterns in Nature: Why the...

4.24 avg rating — 203 ratings — published 2016 — 4 editions
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More books by Philip Ball…
Quotes by Philip Ball  (?)
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“It is only rather recently that science has begun to make peace with its magical roots. Until a few decades ago, it was common for histories of science either to commence decorously with Copernicus's heliocentric theory or to laud the rationalism of Aristotelian antiquity and then to leap across the Middle Ages as an age of ignorance and superstition. One could, with care and diligence, find occasional things to praise in the works of Avicenna, William of Ockham, Albertus Magnus, and Roger Bacon, but these sparse gems had to be thoroughly dusted down and scraped clean of unsightly accretions before being inserted into the corners of a frame fashioned in a much later period.”
Philip Ball, The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science

“No matter who you were in sixteenth-century Europe, you could be sure of two things: you would be lucky to reach fifty years of age, and you could expect a life of discomfort and pain. Old age tires the body by thirty-five, Erasmus lamented, but half the population did not live beyond the age of twenty. There were doctors and there was medicine, but there does not seem to have been a great deal of healing. Anyone who could afford to seek a doctor's aid did so eagerly, but the doctor was as likely to maim or kill as to cure. His potions were usually noxious and sometimes fatal—but they could not have been as terrible and traumatic as the contemporary surgical methods. The surgeon and the Inquisitor differed only in their motivation: otherwise, their batteries of knives, saws, and tongs for slicing, piercing, burning, and amputating were barely distinguishable. Without any anesthetic other than strong liquor, an operation was as bad as the torments of hell.”
Philip Ball, The Devil's Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science

“The world is sensitive to our touch. It has a kind of 'Zing!' that makes it fly off in ways that are not imaginable classically. The whole structure of quantum mechanics may be nothing more than the optimal method of reasoning and processing information in the light of such a fundamental (wonderful) sensitivity. — Chris Fuchs”
Philip Ball, Beyond Weird

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