LoveReading

Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more

Philip Ball - Author

About the Author

Formerly on the staff of Nature, Philip Ball is now a full-time writer. He lives in London.

Featured books by Philip Ball

Serving the Reich The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Serving the Reich The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/10/2014

Shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2014. Serving the Reich tells the story of physics under Hitler. While some scientists tried to create an Aryan physics that excluded any 'Jewish ideas', many others made compromises and concessions as they continued to work under the Nazi regime. Among them were three world-renowned physicists: Max Planck, pioneer of quantum theory, regarded it as his moral duty to carry on under the regime. Peter Debye, a Dutch physicist, rose to run the Reich's most important research institute before leaving for the United States in 1940. Werner Heisenberg, discovered the Uncertainty Principle, and became the leading figure in Germany's race for the atomic bomb. After the war most scientists in Germany maintained they had been apolitical or even resisted the regime: Debye claimed that he had gone to America to escape Nazi interference in his research; Heisenberg and others argued that they had deliberately delayed production of the atomic bomb. Mixing history, science and biography, Serving the Reich is a gripping exploration of moral choices under a totalitarian regime. Here are human dilemmas, failures to take responsibility, three lives caught between the idealistic goals of science and a tyrannical ideology.

ebook of the month
Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Author: Philip Ball Format: Hardback Release Date: 31/07/2014

If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three, given the opportunity. But there's no need to feel guilty. Because these impulses, and plenty more, have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility. Precisely because it points to realms beyond our senses, the notion of invisibility has long performed as a receptacle for fears and dreams, as something that hints at worlds where other rules apply; and as a mighty power and a terrible curse, a sexual promise, a spiritual condition. This is a history of invisibility in our culture. It takes in Plato, the occult in the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, Shakespearian ghosts, ether and cathode rays and nineteenth-century science, spiritualism, electromagnetism, H.G. Wells, the microscopic world, camouflage, prestidigitation and twenty-first century nanoscience. Here is everything you've ever wanted to know about the invisible - from the medieval to the cutting-edge, fairy tales to telecommunications, from beliefs about the supernatural to the discovery of dark energy.

Other books by Philip Ball

How to Grow a Human Adventures in Who We are and How We are Made

How to Grow a Human Adventures in Who We are and How We are Made

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 20/05/2019

A cutting-edge examination of what it means to be human and to have a 'self' in the face of new scientific developments in genetic editing, cloning and neural downloading. After seeing his own cells used to grow clumps of new neurons - essentially mini-brains - Philip Ball begins to examine the concepts of identity and consciousness. Delving into humanity's deep evolutionary past to look at how complex creatures like us emerged from single-celled life, he offers a new perspective on how humans think about ourselves. In an age when we are increasingly encouraged to regard the 'self' as an abstract sequence of genetic information, or as a pattern of neural activity that might be 'downloaded' to a computer, he return us to the body - to flesh and blood - and anchors a conception of personhood in this unique and ephemeral mortal coil. How to Build a Human brings us back to ourselves - but in doing so, it challenges old preconceptions and values. It asks us to rethink how we exist in the world.

How to Grow a Human Adventures in Who We are and How We are Made

How to Grow a Human Adventures in Who We are and How We are Made

Author: Philip Ball Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/05/2019

A cutting-edge examination of what it means to be human and to have a 'self' in the face of new scientific developments in genetic editing, cloning and neural downloading. After seeing his own cells used to grow clumps of new neurons - essentially mini-brains - Philip Ball begins to examine the concepts of identity and consciousness. Delving into humanity's deep evolutionary past to look at how complex creatures like us emerged from single-celled life, he offers a new perspective on how humans think about ourselves. In an age when we are increasingly encouraged to regard the 'self' as an abstract sequence of genetic information, or as a pattern of neural activity that might be 'downloaded' to a computer, he return us to the body - to flesh and blood - and anchors a conception of personhood in this unique and ephemeral mortal coil. How to Build a Human brings us back to ourselves - but in doing so, it challenges old preconceptions and values. It asks us to rethink how we exist in the world.

Beyond Weird

Beyond Weird

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/01/2019

PHYSICS WORLD 2018 BOOK OF THE YEAR `A clear and deeply researched account of what's known about the quantum laws of nature, and how to think about what they might really mean' Nature `I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.' Richard Feynman wrote this in 1965 - the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics. Over the past decade, the enigma of quantum mechanics has come into sharper focus. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information: about what can be known and how. The quantum world isn't a different world: it is our world, and if anything deserves to be called `weird', it's us. This exhilarating book is about what quantum maths really means - and what it doesn't mean. `Gorgeously lucid...takes us to the edge of contemporary theorizing about the foundations of quantum mechanics... Easily the best book I've read on the subject' Washington Post

The Water Kingdom

The Water Kingdom

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2017

Selected as a Book of the Year by The Times and The Economist China's history is an epic tapestry of courtly philosophies, warring factions and imperial intrigue. Yet, over five thousand years, one ancient element has so dramatically shaped the country's fate that it remains the key to unlocking China's story. That element is water. In The Water Kingdom Philip Ball takes us on a grand tour of China's defining element, from the rice terraces and towering karts of its battle-worn waterways, to the vast engineering projects that have struggled to contain water's wrath. What surfaces is the secret history of a people and a nation, drawn from its deep reverence for nature's most dynamic force.

A Waste of Blood and Treasure The 1799 Anglo-Russian Invasion of the Netherlands

A Waste of Blood and Treasure The 1799 Anglo-Russian Invasion of the Netherlands

Author: Philip Ball, Kate Bohdanowicz Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/06/2017

With the Netherlands overrun by French Republican forces, the British and Russian governments sent an allied army of 48,000 men under the Duke of York to liberate the country and restore the House of Orange. The largest operation mounted by Pitt's ministry during the French Revolutionary Wars, the amphibious expedition involved the first ever direct cooperation between British and Russian forces, embroiled the armies in five full-scale battles, and secured the capture of the Dutch fleet. As Britain's first major continental involvement since 1795, it played a part in shaping the early careers of many famous military commanders of the Napoleonic Wars. In the end, however, the campaign failed spectacularly. Its inglorious end provoked parliamentary outrage and led to diplomatic rupture between Britain and Russia. The Duke of York never commanded an army in the field again. This book examines British, French, Dutch and Russian sources to reveal a fascinating tale of intrigue, diplomatic skulduggery and daring action. Spies, politicians, sailors and soldiers all play a part in the exciting story of an expedition that made (and broke) reputations and tested alliances.It recounts in lavish detail the series of battles fought to liberate a people who showed little interest in being saved and explores the story behind the triumphs and failures of this forgotten campaign.

Patterns in Nature Why the Natural World Looks the Way it Does

Patterns in Nature Why the Natural World Looks the Way it Does

Author: Philip Ball Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2017

Though at first glance the natural world may appear overwhelming in its diversity and complexity, there are regularities running through it, from the hexagons of a honeycomb to the spirals of a seashell and the branching veins of a leaf. Revealing the order at the foundation of the seemingly chaotic natural world, Patterns in Nature explores not only the math and science but also the beauty and artistry behind nature's awe-inspiring designs. Unlike the patterns we create in technology, architecture, and art, natural patterns are formed spontaneously from the forces that act in the physical world. Very often the same types of pattern and form spirals, stripes, branches, and fractals, say recur in places that seem to have nothing in common, as when the markings of a zebra mimic the ripples in windblown sand. That's because, as Patterns in Nature shows, at the most basic level these patterns can often be described using the same mathematical and physical principles: there is a surprising underlying unity in the kaleidoscope of the natural world.Richly illustrated with 250 color photographs and anchored by accessible and insightful chapters by esteemed science writer Philip Ball, Patterns in Nature reveals the organization at work in vast and ancient forests, powerful rivers, massing clouds, and coastlines carved out by the sea. By exploring similarities such as those between a snail shell and the swirling stars of a galaxy, or the branches of a tree and those of a river network, this spectacular visual tour conveys the wonder, beauty, and richness of natural pattern formation.

The Water Kingdom

The Water Kingdom

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 04/08/2016

A secret history of China - a fresh new way of thinking about a people, a civilisation, an epic story. The Water Kingdom takes us on a grand journey through China's past and present, offering a unique window through which we can begin to grasp the overwhelming complexity and teeming energy of the country and its people. Water is a key that unlocks much of Chinese history and thought. The ubiquitous relationship that the Chinese people have had with water has made it an enduring metaphor for philosophical thought and artistic expression. From the Han emperors to Mao, the ability to manage the waters - to provide irrigation and defend against floods - became a barometer of political legitimacy, and attempts to do so have involved engineering works on a gigantic scale. Yet the strain that economic growth is putting on its water resources today may be the greatest threat to China's future. The Water Kingdom is an epic, spell-binding story. Our guides are travellers and explorers, poets and painters, bureaucrats and activists, who have themselves struggled to come to terms with living in a world so shaped and permeated by water.

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Invisible The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 27/05/2016

If offered the chance--by cloak, spell, or superpower--to be invisible, who wouldn't want to give it a try? We are drawn to the idea of stealthy voyeurism and the ability to conceal our own acts, but as desirable as it may seem, invisibility is also dangerous. It is not just an optical phenomenon, but a condition full of ethical questions. As esteemed science writer Philip Ball reveals in this book, the story of invisibility is not so much a matter of how it might be achieved but of why we want it and what we would do with it. In this lively look at a timeless idea, Ball provides the first comprehensive history of our fascination with the unseen. This sweeping narrative moves from medieval spell books to the latest nanotechnology, from fairy tales to telecommunications, from camouflage to ghosts to the dawn of nuclear physics and the discovery of dark energy. Along the way, Invisible tells little-known stories about medieval priests who blamed their misdeeds on spirits; the Cock Lane ghost, which intrigued both Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens; the attempts by Victorian scientist William Crookes to detect forces using tiny windmills; novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton's belief that he was unseen when in his dressing gown; and military efforts to enlist magicians to hide tanks and ships during WWII. Bringing in such voices as Plato and Shakespeare, Ball provides not only a scientific history but a cultural one--showing how our simultaneous desire for and suspicion of the invisible has fueled invention and the imagination for centuries. In this unusual and clever book, Ball shows that our fantasies about being unseen--and seeing the unseen--reveal surprising truths about who we are.

El peligroso encanto de lo invisible

El peligroso encanto de lo invisible

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 13/04/2016

Que haria si pudiera volverse invisible? Seguramente, algo relacionado con el poder, con el dinero o con el sexo... o con las tres cosas. Un ensayo fascinante sobre la turbulenta relacion del ser humano con lo invisible: desde los mitos griegos hasta las ultimas tecnologias belicas para no ser visto, pasando por los mundos microscopicos. Imprescindible para apasionados de la divulgacion, la ciencia, la cultura popular y el futuro.

Peter Randall-Page Upside Down & Inside Out

Peter Randall-Page Upside Down & Inside Out

Author: Philip Ball, Steve Russell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/04/2016

La invencion del color

La invencion del color

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 01/04/2016

De donde viene el color? Como encuentran los pintores nuevas tonalidades y de que manera influyen estas en su obra? Desde la austera paleta de los griegos y la costosa pasion por el purpura de los romanos hasta la gloriosa profusion del arte renacentista y la sobriedad cromatica de Velazquez y Rembrandt; desde las tempranas incursiones de los pintores romanticos en el laboratorio del quimico al matrimonio, en ocasiones fallido y en otras espectacularmente exitoso, entre arte y ciencia en el siglo XX, la quimica y el uso artistico del color han existido siempre en una simbiotica relacion que ha determinado sus respectivas evoluciones. La historia de la pintura ha estado influida por la disponibilidad o no de determinados pigmentos, y los descubrimientos cientificos se han reflejado directamente en la paleta del artista. Lleno de anecdotas y apuntes etimologicos, La invencion del color es una historia luminosa de la magia escondida en el lienzo del pintor.

El instinto musical

El instinto musical

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 01/04/2016

Si hay algo que compartan todas las culturas humanas, en todas las epocas y lugares, es la musica. En este libro se argumenta que casi todos, aunque afirmemos tener "e;mal oido"e;, somos expertos en musica porque nuestro cerebro esta muy bien equipado para entenderla, descodificarla, darle significados e incluso crearla. "e;El instinto musical"e; es un libro nico en su gnero, un relato completo de todo lo que se sabe (y mucho de lo que no se sabe) sobre cmo percibimos la msica, y qu papel juega en la cultura y en la sociedad. En l, el lector hallar las claves para disfrutar ms de la que ya le gusta, y quiz abrir sus percepciones a otros gneros musicales que hasta ahora le resultaban lejanos. Al menos, disfrutar de un viaje impresionante, lleno de datos inesperados, ancdotas y conocimiento sobre la gran aventura que se inicia en su cerebro cada vez que aprieta el botn de "e;play"e;.

Contra natura

Contra natura

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 01/04/2016

Si una cena o una reunion languidecen, hay un tema de conversacion que nunca falla: la concepcion "e;no natural"e; de seres humanos. Que opinais de la congelacion de embriones? Conoceis a alguien que haya recurrido a una madre de alquiler? Sera ya posible clonar a personas? Y esto de las celulas madre...?El asunto despierta opiniones encendidas, no siempre bien informadas pero muy sentidas y viscerales. Opiniones que mezclan sentimientos, prejuicios, mitos, tica e ideologa. El asunto de crear seres humanos nos ha fascinado en la literatura desde Frankenstein o el Golem, ha animado miles de relatos de ciencia ficcin, ha sido el terror o la esperanza secreta de los cientficos y se remonta en la historia hasta la antigedad. "e;Contra natura"e; une historia, divulgacin, informacin de primera mano y narracin de intriga para analizar de forma seria y amena las implicaciones bioticas y los sesgos culturales de un tema que habla de la vida, de la creatividad, de la tecnologa y tambin del alma.

Curiosidad

Curiosidad

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 01/04/2016

Hubo un tiempo en que la curiosidad era algo condenable: a fin de cuentas, por su culpa cometio Eva ese pecado original que al parecer aun estamos pagando. Y sin embargo, no es facil frenar la curiosidad humana. Llevados por ella, hoy nos gastamos fortunas en construir un acelerador de particulas que nos permita "e;ver"e; el instante de la creacion, o en mandar robots a planetas lejanos, y todavia hay quien le da vueltas a la idea de la piedra filosofal. Ese paso de vicio a virtud es el que recorre Philip Ball en este libro, una gran biografa coral de los qumicos, astrnomos, fsicos y dems cientficos que rompieron barreras, que metieron la nariz donde nadie haba osado meterla antes y que dieron paso a la ciencia moderna. Magia, religin, literatura, viajes, comercio e imperialismo se mezclan en un relato apasionante, que invita al lector a un viaje que no olvidar nunca: el gran tour por la historia de la curiosidad.

Al servicio del Reich

Al servicio del Reich

Author: Philip Ball Format: eBook Release Date: 01/04/2016

Los primeros cientificos que experimentaron con la fisica atomica tuvieron la "e;suerte"e; de vivir unos tiempos interesantes. En plena Segunda Guerra Mundial, la ciencia alemana se convirtio en un asunto politico: Heisenberg, Planck, Einstein y Debye, entre muchos otros, tuvieron que definirse. Como cientificos y como personas. Y, para algunos de ellos, la definicion no fue la misma.

Invisible The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics

Invisible The History of the Unseen from Plato to Particle Physics

Author: Philip Ball Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 30/07/2015

If you could be invisible, what would you do? The chances are that it would have something to do with power, wealth or sex. Perhaps all three. But there's no need to feel guilty. Impulses like these have always been at the heart of our fascination with invisibility: it points to realms beyond our senses, serves as a receptacle for fears and dreams, and hints at worlds where other rules apply. Invisibility is a mighty power and a terrible curse, a sexual promise, a spiritual condition. This is a history of humanity's turbulent relationship with the invisible. It takes on the myths and morals of Plato, the occult obsessions of the Middle Ages, the trickeries and illusions of stage magic, the auras and ethers of Victorian physics, military strategies to camouflage armies and ships and the discovery of invisibly small worlds. From the medieval to the cutting-edge, fairy tales to telecommunications, from beliefs about the supernatural to the discovery of dark energy, Philip Ball reveals the universe of the invisible.

Author Info

Author's Website

https://www.philipball.co.uk

Author's Facebook

Find Philip Ball on Facebook

Twitter Updates

If this is your author page then you can share your Twitter updates with your readers right here on LoveReading

Find out more