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39+ Works 5,186 Members 95 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Philip Ball is a freelance writer who lives in London. He worked for over twenty years as an editor for Nature, writes regularly in the scientific and popular media, and has authored many books on the interactions of the sciences, the arts, and the wider culture, including, most recently, Serving show more the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics under Hitler, also published by the University of Chicago Press. show less

Includes the name: Philip Ball


Works by Philip Ball

Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another (2004) 1,087 copies, 14 reviews
Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color (2001) 484 copies, 11 reviews
Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water (1999) 308 copies, 4 reviews
The Elements: A Very Short Introduction (2002) 273 copies, 9 reviews
Molecules: A Very Short Introduction (2001) 194 copies, 1 review
Nature's patterns : a tapestry in three parts : Branches (2009) — Author — 128 copies, 1 review
The Water Kingdom (2016) 107 copies, 2 reviews
The Sun and Moon Corrupted (2008) 18 copies
Cuántica (2018) 10 copies

Associated Works

The New Science of Strong Materials or Why You Don't Fall through the Floor (1968) — Introduction, some editions — 392 copies, 6 reviews
The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2019 (2020) — Contributor — 106 copies
The Public Domain Review: Selected Essays, Vol. IV — Contributor — 4 copies, 1 review


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Common Knowledge

Country (for map)
England, UK
Places of residence
London, England, UK
University of Oxford
University of Bristol
science writer
Nature (editor)



Quantum theory, which deals with the world at its smallest-known scale, always gives me the feeling that someone somewhere is cheating, sort of moving the goalposts about to suit themselves. First it means one thing, then it means something else (except when it doesn’t of course), and so on. But I also know that that’s because I haven’t understood it. Beyond Weird is an attempt at setting straight all the misconceptions there are about this subject, and in particular the greatest one of all, namely, that things down at the sub-atomic level are “weird”. That’s what “Beyond Weird” means: not “even stranger than weird”, but rather, getting past the idea that it’s weird at all and seeing that, in fact, it’s anything but.
    For a start, the writing here is exceptional, so clear and comprehensible it’s almost as if the guy is sitting in a chair opposite you explaining it in person—one of the best pieces of science-writing I’ve come across. It’s non-mathematical, yet goes into real depth (and is up to date too, or 2019 at least). Also, unlike so many other books on the subject, this is not so much an exhaustive round-up of the details, but more about their interpretation overall, how on earth we make some kind of sense of them. Such as: that quantum objects can be both waves and particles; can simultaneously be both here and there; can affect one another instantly across vast distances; and that you can’t observe them without changing them. “Quantum mechanics might seem ‘weird’, but it is not illogical. It’s just that it employs a new and unfamiliar logic. If you can grasp it…then the quantum world may stop seeming weird and become just another place, with different customs and traditions and with its own beautiful internal consistency…”
    And above all: “Such ‘paradoxes’ apparently permit the answers Yes and No simultaneously. Whatever we are to make of that, we must surely aspire to do better than shrug and call it ‘weird’.”
… (more)
justlurking | 9 other reviews | May 28, 2024 |
Had trouble getting into this one. I guess I don't buy interpretations that aren't deeply rooted in the text itself. Making claims like "Actually, Batman was gay!" is easy and fun, I guess, and you can use that as a jumping-off point for even more speculation. But in the end it feels like a parlor trick, making those kinds of extended arguments without much, if any, textual evidence to support you. "How long can I keep this up, how far can I take this?" Reminds me too much of college Lit. essays with a weak thesis and 35 pages to fill.… (more)
adamhindman | 5 other reviews | May 1, 2024 |
Brimful of facts, the book enhances our understanding of colors, color perception and production, drawing and history of art in general. It portrays interesting intertwinement of painting techniques development and 'hardware' available for artists at various points in history.

I found it impossible to read without an Internet access available around. Despite a number of illustrations the author constantly refers (and for good reasons) to a yet greater number of works. Thus it is more rewarding - both estethically and cognitively - to check those paintings to better understand the points made by this brilliant author.… (more)
Den85 | 10 other reviews | Jan 3, 2024 |
Ampio, approfondito e ambizioso. Ball riesce molto bene a informare, analizzare e ipotizzare, in modo diverso - e con difficoltà e astrazione crescente - procedendo dai primi capitoli basati sulla comprensione del linguaggio musicale e della sua armonia verso gli ultimi, dove il cosiddetto linguaggio musicale è esposto in quanto tale a una comparazione con linguaggi più propriamente intesi - in primis quello verbale - che apre a una raccolta di riflessioni illustri che risultano interessanti spesso proprio perché ardite e arbitrarie. In tutto ciò, il filo rosso della musica come istinto attraversa l'intero libro, ponendosi come ulteriore spunto ambizioso che, con tutte le difficoltà interpretative che presenta, non può che affascinare e far apprezzare l'impresa di ricerca e scrittura di Ball.… (more)
d.v. | 2 other reviews | May 16, 2023 |



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