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"One of our most versatile and gripping science writers." John Carey

Latest Books


UK cover of The Book of Minds by Philip Ball

The Book of Minds: How to understand ourselves and other beings, from animals to AI to aliens

Understanding the human mind and how it relates to the world that we experience has challenged philosophers for centuries. How then do we even begin to think about ‘minds’ that are not human?
In recent decades, the mind – both human and otherwise – has been explored by scientists in fields ranging from zoology to astrobiology, computer science to neuroscience. Taking a uniquely broad view of minds and where they might be found – including in plants, aliens, and God – The Book of Minds pulls these multidisciplinary pieces together. In so doing, it offers for the first time a unified way of thinking about what minds are and what they can do, arguing that in order to understand our own minds and imagine those of others, we need to move on from considering the human mind as a standard against which all others should be measured.

OUT ON 23rd June 2022

Book cover image of The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular ImaginationThe Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination

Myths are usually seen as stories from the depths of time—fun and fantastical, but no longer believed by anyone. Yet as Philip Ball shows, we are still writing them—and still living them—today. From Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein to Batman, many stories written in the past few centuries are commonly, perhaps glibly, called “modern myths.” But Ball argues that we should take that idea seriously. Our stories of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes are doing the kind of cultural work that the ancient myths once did. Through the medium of narratives that all of us know in their basic outline and which have no clear moral or resolution, these modern myths explore some of our deepest fears, dreams, and anxieties. We keep returning to these tales, reinventing them endlessly for new uses. But what are they really about, and why do we need them? What myths are still taking shape today? And what makes a story become a modern myth?

In The Modern Myths, Ball takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our collective imagination, asking what some of its most popular stories reveal about the nature of being human in the modern age.

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The Beauty of Chemistry: Art, Wonder, and Science

Chemistry is not just about microscopic atoms doing inscrutable things; it is the process that makes flowers and galaxies. We rely on it for bread-baking, vegetable-growing, and producing the materials of daily life. In stunning images and illuminating text, this book captures chemistry as it unfolds. Using such techniques as microphotography, time-lapse photography, and infrared thermal imaging, The Beauty of Chemistry shows us how chemistry underpins the formation of snowflakes, the science of champagne, the colors of flowers, and other wonders of nature and technology. We see the marvelous configurations of chemical gardens; the amazing transformations of evaporation, distillation, and precipitation; heat made visible; and more.

The visuals in The Beauty of Chemistry are drawn from the online exhibition Envisioning Chemistry created by Wenting Zhu and Yan Liang in collaboration with the Chinese Chemical Society. These striking images are accompanied by accessible, engaging explanations by award-winning science writer Philip Ball.

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Philip Ball is a writer. Most of his books are concerned with science in some form or another: its history, its interactions with the arts and society, its achievements, delights and detours. He is a regular columnist for several magazines and an occasional radio presenter and broadcaster. He was an editor of Nature for many years, and long ago, a chemist and physicist of sorts.

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LATEST ARTICLE

"Why physics is not a discipline", Nautilus 21 April. Available here.