• Why have all human cultures - today and throughout history - made music?
    Why does music excite such rich emotion?
    How do we make sense of musical sound?
    These are questions that have, until recently, remained mysterious. Now The Music Instinct explores how the latest research in music psychology and brain science is piecing together the puzzle of how our minds understand and respond to music. Ranging from Bach fugues to nursery rhymes to heavy rock, Philip Ball interweaves philosophy, mathematics, history and neurology to reveal why music moves us in so many ways. Without requiring any specialist knowledge, The Music Instinct will both deepen your appreciation of the music you love, and open doors to music that once seemed alien, dull or daunting, offering a passionate plea for the importance of music in education and in everyday life.

  • Anglais Unnatural

    Philip Ball

    Can we make a human being?



    The question has been asked for many centuries, and has produced recipes ranging from the clay golem of Jewish legend to the mass-produced test-tube babies in Brave New World. Unnatural delves beneath the surface of the cultural history of 'anthropoeia' - the artificial creation of people - to explore what it tells us about our views on life, humanity, creativity and technology, and the soul.



    Philip Ball traces the threads that link the legendary inventor Daedalus, Goethe's tragic Faust, the automata-making magicians of E.T.A. Hoffman and Mary Shelley's Victor Frankenstein. He argues that these old tales and myths are alive and well, subtly manipulating the current debates about assisted conception, embryo research and human cloning, which have at last made the idea of 'making people' into flesh and blood reality.

  • Anglais Curiosity

    Philip Ball

    There was a time when curiosity was condemned.



    Through curiosity, our innocence was said to be lost. Yet this hasn't deterred us. Today we spend vast sums trying to recreate the first instants of creation in particle accelerators, out of pure desire to know. There seems now to be no question too vast or too trivial. No longer reviled, curiosity is now celebrated.



    By examining the rise of curiosity from the dawn of modern science to today, we can examine how it functions in science, how it is spun, packaged and sold, and how the changing shape of science influences the kinds of questions it may ask.

  • Anglais Bright Earth

    Philip Ball

    Colour in art - as in life - is both inspiring and uplifting, but where does it come from? How have artists found new hues, and how have these influenced their work? Beginning with the ancients - when just a handful of pigments made up the artist's palette - and charting the discoveries and developments that have led to the many splendoured rainbow of modern paints, Bright Earth brings the story of colour spectacularly alive. Packed with anecdotes about lucky accidents and hapless misfortunes in the quests for new colours, it provides an entertaining and fascinating new perspective on the science of art.

  • All human cultures seem to make music - today and through history. But why they do so, why music can excite deep passions, and how we make sense of musical sound at all are questions that have, until recently, remained profoundly mysterious. Now in The Music Instinct Brain Shot Philip Ball provides the first comprehensive, accessible survey of what is known - and what is still unknown - about how music works its magic, and why, as much as eating and sleeping, it seems indispensable to humanity.



    BRAIN SHOT: Byte-sized survey of what is known - and what is still unknown - about how music works and why it is indispensible to humanity

  • In the twelfth century, Christians in Europe began to build a completely new kind of church - soaring, spacious monuments flooded with light from immense windows. These were the first Gothic churches, the crowning example of which was the cathedral of Chartres: a revolution in thought embodied in stone and glass, and a bridge between the ancient and modern worlds.



    In Universe of Stone, Philip Ball explains the genesis and development of the Gothic style. He argues that it signified a profound change in the social, intellectual and theological climate of Western Christendom. As the church represented nothing less than a vision of heaven on earth, this shift in architectural style marked the beginning of the argument between faith and reason which continues today, and of a scientific view of the world that threatened to dispense with God altogether.

  • Anglais Invisible

    Philip Ball

    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.

  • Anglais The Devil's Doctor

    Philip Ball

    Philip Theophrastus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim - known to later ages as Paracelsus - stands on the borderline between medieval and modern; a name that is familiar but a man who has been hard to perceive or understand. Contemporary of Luther, enemy of established medicine, scourge of the universities ('at all the German schools you cannot learn as much as at the Frankfurt Fair'), army surgeon and alchemist, myths about him - from his treating diseases from beyond the grave in mid-nineteenth century Salzburg to his Faustian bargain with the devil to regain his youth - have been far more lasting than his actual story. Even during his lifetime, he was rumoured to travel with a magical white horse and to store the elixir of life in the pommel of his sword.



    But who was Paracelsus and what did he really believe and practice? Although Paracelsus has been seen as both a charlatan and as a founder of modern science, Philip Ball's book reveals a more richly complex man - who used his eyes and ears to learn from nature how to heal, and who wrote influential books on medicine, surgery, alchemy and theology while living a drunken, combative, vagabond life. Above all, Ball reveals a man who was a product of his time - an age of great change in which the church was divided and the classics were rediscovered - and whose bringing together of the seemingly diverse disciplines of alchemy and biology signalled the beginning of the age of rationalism.

  • As part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at the form and growth of branching networks in the natural world, and what we can learn from them.

    Many patterns in nature show a branching form - trees, river deltas, blood vessels, lightning, the cracks that form in the glazing of pots. These networks share a peculiar geometry, finding a compromise between disorder and determinism, though some, like the hexagonal snowflake or the stones of the Devil's Causeway fall into a rigidly ordered structure. Branching networks are found at every level in biology - from the single cell to the ecosystem. Human-made networks too can come to share the same features, and if they don't, then it might be profitable to make them do so: nature's patterns tend to arise from economical solutions.

  • From the swirl of a wisp of smoke to eddies in rivers, and the huge persistent storm system that is the Great Spot on Jupiter, we see similar forms and patterns wherever there is flow - whether the movement of wind, water, sand, or flocks of birds. It is the complex dynamics of flow that structures our atmosphere, land, and oceans.

    Part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature by acclaimed science writer Philip Ball, this volume explores the elusive rules that govern flow - the science of chaotic behaviour.

  • Patterns are everywhere in nature - in the ranks of clouds in the sky, the stripes of an angelfish, the arrangement of petals in flowers. Where does this order and regularity come from? It creates itself. The patterns we see come from self-organization. Whether living or non-living, scientists have found that there is a pattern-forming tendency inherent in the basic structure and processes of nature, so that from a few simple themes, and the repetition of simple rules, endless beautiful variations can arise.

    Part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at how shapes form. From soap bubbles to honeycombs, delicate shell patterns, and even the developing body parts of a complex animal like ourselves, he uncovers patterns in growth and form in all corners of the natural world, explains how these patterns are self-made, and why similar shapes and structures may be found in very different settings, orchestrated by nothing more than simple physical forces. This book will make you look at the world with fresh eyes, seeing order and form even in the places you'd least expect.

  • As part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at the form and growth of branching networks in the natural world, and what we can learn from them.

    Many patterns in nature show a branching form - trees, river deltas, blood vessels, lightning, the cracks that form in the glazing of pots. These networks share a peculiar geometry, finding a compromise between disorder and determinism, though some, like the hexagonal snowflake or the stones of the Devil's Causeway fall into a rigidly ordered structure. Branching networks are found at every level in biology - from the single cell to the ecosystem. Human-made networks too can come to share the same features, and if they don't, then it might be profitable to make them do so: nature's patterns tend to arise from economical solutions.

  • From the swirl of a wisp of smoke to eddies in rivers, and the huge persistent storm system that is the Great Spot on Jupiter, we see similar forms and patterns wherever there is flow - whether the movement of wind, water, sand, or flocks of birds. It is the complex dynamics of flow that structures our atmosphere, land, and oceans.

    Part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature by acclaimed science writer Philip Ball, this volume explores the elusive rules that govern flow - the science of chaotic behaviour.

  • Patterns are everywhere in nature - in the ranks of clouds in the sky, the stripes of an angelfish, the arrangement of petals in flowers. Where does this order and regularity come from? It creates itself. The patterns we see come from self-organization. Whether living or non-living, scientists have found that there is a pattern-forming tendency inherent in the basic structure and processes of nature, so that from a few simple themes, and the repetition of simple rules, endless beautiful variations can arise.

    Part of a trilogy of books exploring the science of patterns in nature, acclaimed science writer Philip Ball here looks at how shapes form. From soap bubbles to honeycombs, delicate shell patterns, and even the developing body parts of a complex animal like ourselves, he uncovers patterns in growth and form in all corners of the natural world, explains how these patterns are self-made, and why similar shapes and structures may be found in very different settings, orchestrated by nothing more than simple physical forces. This book will make you look at the world with fresh eyes, seeing order and form even in the places you'd least expect.

  • 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.

  • Anglais Beyond Weird

    Philip Ball

    'This is the book I wish I could have written but am very glad I've read' Jim Al-Khalili'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.Quantum physics is regarded as one of the most obscure and impenetrable subjects in all of science. But when Feynman said he didn't understand quantum mechanics, he didn't mean that he couldn't do it - he meant that's all he could do. He didn't understand what the maths was saying: what quantum mechanics tells us about reality. Over the past decade or so, 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. This is more disturbing than our bad habit of describing the quantum world as 'things behaving weirdly' suggests. It calls into question the meanings and limits of space and time, cause and effect, and knowledge itself.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.

  • Society is complicated. But this book argues that this does not place it beyond the reach of a science that can help to explain and perhaps even to predict social behaviour. As a system made up of many interacting agents - people, groups, institutions and governments, as well as physical and technological structures such as roads and computer networks - society can be regarded as a complex system. In recent years, scientists have made great progress in understanding how such complex systems operate, ranging from animal populations to earthquakes and weather. These systems show behaviours that cannot be predicted or intuited by focusing on the individual components, but which emerge spontaneously as a consequence of their interactions: they are said to be `self-organized'. Attempts to direct or manage such emergent properties generally reveal that `top-down' approaches, which try to dictate a particular outcome, are ineffectual, and that what is needed instead is a `bottom-up' approach that aims to guide self-organization towards desirable states.This book shows how some of these ideas from the science of complexity can be applied to the study and management of social phenomena, including traffic flow, economic markets, opinion formation and the growth and structure of cities. Building on these successes, the book argues that the complex-systems view of the social sciences has now matured sufficiently for it to be possible, desirable and perhaps essential to attempt a grander objective: to integrate these efforts into a unified scheme for studying, understanding and ultimately predicting what happens in the world we have made. Such a scheme would require the mobilization and collaboration of many different research communities, and would allow society and its interactions with the physical environment to be explored through realistic models and large-scale data collection and analysis. It should enable us to find new and effective solutions to major global problems such as conflict, disease, financial instability, environmental despoliation and poverty, while avoiding unintended policy consequences. It could give us the foresight to anticipate and ameliorate crises, and to begin tackling some of the most intractable problems of the twenty-first century.

  • This Very Short Introduction traces the history and cultural impact of the elements on humankind, and examines why people have long sought to identify the substances around them. Looking beyond the Periodic Table, the author examines our relationship with matter, from the uncomplicated vision of the Greek philosophers, who believed there were four elements - earth, air, fire, and water - to the work of modern-day scientists in creating elements such as hassium and meitnerium. Packed with anecdotes, The Elements is a highly engaging and entertaining exploration of the fundamental question: what is the world made from?

    ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

  • The processes in a single living cell are akin to that of a city teeming with molecular inhabitants that move, communicate, cooperate, and compete. In this Very Short Introduction, Philip Ball explores the role of the molecule in and around us - how, for example, a single fertilized egg can grow into a multi-celled Mozart, what makes spider's silk insoluble in the morning dew, and how this molecular dynamism is being captured in the laboratory, promising to reinvent chemistry as the central creative science of the century.

    ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

  • This Very Short Introduction traces the history and cultural impact of the elements on humankind, and examines why people have long sought to identify the substances around them. Looking beyond the Periodic Table, the author examines our relationship with matter, from the uncomplicated vision of the Greek philosophers, who believed there were four elements - earth, air, fire, and water - to the work of modern-day scientists in creating elements such as hassium and meitnerium. Packed with anecdotes, The Elements is a highly engaging and entertaining exploration of the fundamental question: what is the world made from?

    ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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