user_mobilelogo

"One of our most versatile and gripping science writers." John Carey - The Sunday Times

A History Book of the Year in The Times


A History Book of the Year in The Economist


“Philip Ball argues in this extraordinary book, water is key to understanding China. After reading The Water Kingdom, I’m inclined to agree.”

Gerard DeGroot, The Times


The Water Kingdom traverses fascinating, endlessly fertile territory… It should make us rethink our own relationship with water.”

Christopher Harding, Daily Telegraph


“A convincing introduction to Chinese history. Rather than perpetuating stereotypes, it boldly navigates treacherous and often-avoided terrain… It has taken a generalist to turn the rich but rather dry literature on the history of water in China into an accessible history.”

Andrea Janku, Nature


“Ball’s journey along the history, politics and culture of China’s waterways encompasses many heroes of Chinese hydrology, men who grappled with elemental forces and imperial censure and sometimes came out on top.”

Isabel Hilton, Observer


“Excellent, smartly written”

Jonathan Fenby, Financial Times


“Lucid and impressive”

Rana Mitter, Prospect

Book cover: INVISIBLE: The Dangerous Allure of the Unseen

"Ball leads us on a very fun, largely chronological journey through invisibility, beginning with myth and early magicians, ending with quantum physics, and stopping along the way at Newton, Leibniz, microscopy, photography, spiritualism, B movies, and science fiction. He is lucid and interesting on every topic he touches, from the ghost in “Hamlet” to those unseen extra dimensions posited by string theory." Kathryn Schultz, New Yorker (here)


“crisp and often witty, packed with abstruse information. Ball's extensive research, rather than being a parade of intellectual swank, works to encourage connections and make the reader think… Assisted by rich reference to literature, history and philosophy… I liked many things about this book but perhaps what I liked best was his summing up: "As the history of invisibility shows, myth is no blueprint for the engineer. It is more important than that." Salley Vickers, Observer (here)


“A fascinating compendium of the ways in which both the idea and the reality of invisibility have resonated in human minds over the centuries… Ball’s writing is incisive enough to keep the different elements hanging and working together like a finely tuned Alexander Calder mobile.” Economist (here)


Book cover of Serving the Reich: The Struggle for the Soul of Physics Under Hitler

Selected for science books of the year in the Observer and Times Higher Education. Shortlisted for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.


"The story is intriguing for it reveals the lack of insight of many of the world's greatest physicists."Robin McKie, Observer


"Ball's book shows what can happen to morality when cleverness and discovery are valued above all else."Philip Maughan, New Statesman


"Ball does an outstanding service by reminding us how powerful and sometimes confusing the pressures were. Packed with dramatic, moving and even comical moments."Robert Crease, Nature


Unnatural: The Heretical Idea of Making People. A book by Philip Ball

"A beautifully written, deeply intelligent book that will force every reader to rethink at least some of their preconceptions."Jim Endersby, Daily Telegraph


"A fascinating and impressive cultural history."Manjit Kumar, The Guardian


"Labelling Ball a science writer sells his writing short, for its value lies above all in a range that dissolves the awkward silences between science and the larger culture of which it is part."Marek Kohn, The Independent


The Music Instinct: How music works, and why we can't do without it. A book by Philip Ball.

"[A] wonderful account of why music matters, why it wrenches our souls and satisfies our minds and sometimes drives us crazy... I defy anyone to read this book without coming away better informed about why music affects us in such a profound way… His passion for music is evident on every page."Sunday Times


"Ball's book towers above the competition with its erudition, balance, and attention to detail... This is the most accessible, comprehensive, and provocative investigation of the science of music - and its limits - yet to be written."Globe and Mail (Toronto)


Nature's Patterns : A Tapestry in Three Parts, Shapes, a book by Philip Ball   Nature's Patterns : A Tapestry in Three Parts, Flow   Nature's Patterns : A Tapestry in Three Parts, Branches, a book by Philip Ball

"wide-ranging, intelligent and non-dogmatic... a lucid and companionable guide to some of the big issues in science, past and present."
Martin Kemp, Times Literary Supplement


Universe of Stone: Chartres Cathedral and the Triumph of the Medieval Mind, a book by Philip Ball

"impressively erudite, refreshingly undogmatic, and delightfully discursive… It will make many readers rush to see its subject for themselves." Financial Times


"Ball presents an impressive amount of technical information in lucid and engaging form. There is no better general introduction to the subject." Wall Street Journal


"a compelling book… unfolds the mysteries of Chartres in all their complex involutions."Guardian


Book cover of Curiosity by Philip Ball

"Curiosity is a wonderful book that revises popular assumptions about the Scientific Revolution with great wit and insight. But ultimately it is both a cogent and vigorously argued reflection on what drives modern experimental science… Philip Ball distinguishes himself as unquestionably one of our finest – and most curious – writers on the history and future of science."Jerry Brotton, Literary Review


"Philip Ball, like Primo Levi, displays a polymath’s enthusiasm for knowledge of all kinds, and writes of science with humility and intelligent generosity… Ball’s new book, a readable survey of the role of curiosity in science, is a good example of what the French call haute vulgarisation – high-class popularisation. In pages of limpid prose, Ball brings difficult ideas down a level." Ian Thomson, Daily Telegraph


The Sun and Moon Corrupted, a book by Philip Ball

"How do you write a novel about science? Many people do it badly, but with 'The Sun and Moon Corrupted', Philip Ball succeeds at his first attempt. Six steps lead to a good read, and Ball has aced them all."Nature


"Ball has still written a fine novel which achieves a kind of well-wrought luminescence and purity of its own: much like the glowing result of an alchemical experiment." The New Humanist


"Neder is as elusive, crazed and compelling as Nabokov’s John Shade."Financial Times


The Devil’s Doctor: Paracelsus and the World of Renaissance Magic and Science, a book by Philip Ball

"Ball brings to light a largely forgotten phase of human understanding. It is a considerable achievement."Peter Ackroyd, Times


"Wonderfully rich… Ball does an excellent job of recreating this strange and wonderful age, with its wandering wizards and its magical worldview. [He] succeeds in convincing us that, despite [Paracelsus’s] arcane ideas, his vision of the ‘strangeness and the beauty of the magical universe’ remains both inspiring and important."P.D.Smith, Guardian


"Were a film about Paracelsus to be made today, however, it would have to be based on this excellent biography. Philip Ball's account of this semi-mythical and little-known figure is a pleasure to read, combining a page-turning narrative with brief histories of Renaissance magic, medicine and religious upheaval."Gary Lachman, Independent


Elegant Solutions:Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry. A book by Philip Ball

"I cannot think of anyone else who is able to present this chemical history tour with such precision and clarity… Ball is witty, wise, and delightful." Pedro Cintas, Angewandte Chemie


"The whole book is full of vivid characters, pointed anecdote and insightful comment, and is a delight to read." Martyn Berry, Chemistry & Industry


"The book provides no less than the first analysis of [beauty in] chemistry. The intellectual strength of the book is that it provokes you to think about how aesthetic values are related to experimental virtues." Joachim Schummer, Hyle


Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another, a book by Philip Ball

"Ball delves far beyond today's headlines... substantial, impeccably researched and generally persuasive. For anyone who would like to learn about the intellectual ferment at the surprising junction of physics and social science, Critical Mass is the place to start."Steven Strogatz, Nature


"Philip Ball makes physics sexy again in Critical Mass."Vanity Fair


"Lively and wonderfully informative."George Scialabba, Boston Globe


Book cover to THE INGREDIENTS: A Guided Tour of the Elements

"A delight of a book· It could become a classic. Hold on to your first edition"New Scientist


"This provocative book· is surely worth a read by both general readers and chemists."Nature


"With [a] good-tempered twinkle Ball provides an extended essay on the culture, history, and nature of the chemical elements. His range is somewhat sweeping, but Ball is choosy about what he shares, and the immensity of the topic is never overwhelming."Chemical & Engineering News


Book cover to STORIES OF THE INVISIBLE: A Guided Tour of Molecules

"If the intimate workings of molecules seem invisible, through Philip Ball's lively prose we see them - coming to life, helping us live. A special delight of this excellent book is the tie that emerges between the wondrous molecules of nature and those that chemists make in the laboratory." Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1981


"Almost no aspect of the exciting advances in molecular research studies at the beginning of the 21st century has been left untouched and in doing so, Ball has presented an imaginative, personal overview, which is as instructive as it is enjoyable to read."Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1996


"A must for all those who wish to acquire a basic scientific culture while greatly enjoying it."Jean-Marie Lehn, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1987


Book cover to BRIGHT EARTH: Art and the Invention of Colour

"If the intimate workings of molecules seem invisible, through Philip Ball's lively prose we see them - coming to life, helping us live. A special delight of this excellent book is the tie that emerges between the wondrous molecules of nature and those that chemists make in the laboratory."Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1981


"Almost no aspect of the exciting advances in molecular research studies at the beginning of the 21st century has been left untouched and in doing so, Ball has presented an imaginative, personal overview, which is as instructive as it is enjoyable to read."Harry Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1996


"A must for all those who wish to acquire a basic scientific culture while greatly enjoying it."Jean-Marie Lehn, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1987


Book cover to H2O: A Biography of Water

"Ball engages fearlessly with all the questions most non-scientists can never answer: how hydrogen and oxygen came to combine following the Big Bang; why water freezes from the top down; why snowflakes have six points; and how water came to cover two-thirds of our planet. He writes clearly, humorously and with an enviable range of literary allusions about a subject which would tie others in knots. This is a science book to recommend highly." Charles Clover, Daily Telegraph


"The breadth of Ball's coverage is deeply impressive. By dint of a lot of flair and eclectic learning, he makes us look afresh at the most commonplace subject imaginable. This is one of the best science books of the year."Graham Farmelo, New Scientist


"Philip Ball is a brilliant science writer and a risk-taker... He has handled this incredibly complex scientific brief more skilfully and entertainingly than anybody else could have done."Anna Paterson, Sunday Herald (Glasgow)


Book cover: THE SELF-MADE TAPESTRY: Pattern Formation in Nature

"Philip Ball has produced a superb book about patterns in nature. From the ribbed desert sands to tree-form streaks of lightning, countless examples give rise to fascinating reflections on the astounding order that exists amid chaos. Lavishly illustrated, this is a stunning book." John Cornwell, The Times


"You will find no better guide than Ball. His book is a scrupulous, unusually clear presentation of research whose modest form disguises the immense industry, intelligence and skill that have gone into its making."Evan Eisenberg, Natural History


"Philip Ball writes with a balance, thoroughness and simplicity that I found remarkable. Ball's approach is to write carefully, be sceptical and non-polemical about data and their interpretation, and give credit to heterodox views where credit is due."Edward Cox, Nature


Book cover to MADE TO MEASURE: New Materials for the 21st Century

"Let me state upfront that Made to Measure is an outstanding book. It is beautifully written and illustrated. Ball has done his research extremely well and writes with deep understanding. If you buy no other science book this year, I suggest you buy this one."Colin Humphreys, New Scientist


"It is refreshing to find a book on "new" materials that sets them in their context, recognizing that they have a pedigree. The range of materials and applications considered is vast. But the book is far from being just a list of diverse materials. It also offers analysis of trends. The science is described with a fluency and accuracy that puts most practising scientists to shame."Lindsay Greer, Nature


"Ball's point of view is that of a very well informed outsider, looking in. This is quite unique. Made to Measure succeeds admirably by paying attention to some of the real detail of the issues involved, and not asking the reader to accept that anything is too complicated to explain or understand. Buy this book and read it for your own pleasure."Alex King, Materials Today


Book cover to DESIGNING THE MOLECULAR WORLD: Chemistry at the Frontier

"Lucidly written, with an acute awareness of recent advances and an excellent understanding of their intrinsic scientific content." Sir Harold Kroto, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Physics World


"Designing the Molecular World is a tour de force of popular science writing: nothing less than a survey, in considerable depth, of the frontiers of modern chemistry."John Postgate, The Times Literary Supplement


"This book is like a clean fresh breeze, and puts the image of chemistry back into proper perspective." Rudolph Fahnenstich, Angewandte Chemie


Book covers

News from Philip

NEXT/LATEST BROADCAST

The Unseen - A History of the Invisible

A series of five programmes looking at amazing events and characters from science history, on BBC Radio 4.

They are available for some time on the BBC iPlayer here.