Philip Ball
Freelance writer, London

Philip Ball is a British science writer, whose work appears in Nature, New Scientist and Prospect, among others. His latest book is Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics is Different (2018). He lives in London.

Written by Philip Ball

Photo by Christopher Anderson/Magnum

Essay/
Future of technology
Sim ethics

Say you could make a thousand digital replicas of yourself – should you? What happens when you want to get rid of them?

Philip Ball

Development in Brown 1933, by Wassily Kandinsky. Photo by Christophel Fine Art/Getty

Essay/
Mathematics
How natural is numeracy?

Where does our number sense come from? Is it a neural capacity we are born with — or is it a product of our culture?

Philip Ball

Photo by duncan1890/getty

Essay/
Quantum theory
Quantum common sense

Despite its confounding reputation, quantum mechanics both guides and helps explain human intuition

Philip Ball

A white contrail left by a meteor shower over Chelyabinsk, Russia, 15 February 2013. Photo by Pustovaya Marina/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis

Essay/
Cosmology
Life rocks

Could meteorites be akin to lifeboats from other planets? Or do they reveal more about life on Earth than off it?

Philip Ball

In the Adirondacks Rockwell Kent (1882-1971). Photo © Christie’s Images Ltd

Essay/
Music
The story trap

We use neat stories to explain everything from sports matches to symphonies. Is it time to leave the nursery of the mind?

Philip Ball

Illustration by Clayton Junior

Essay/
Philosophy of science
Too many worlds

Nobody knows what happens inside quantum experiments. So why are some so keen to believe in parallel universes?

Philip Ball

Theoretically beautiful; geometrically pruned trees, Leer, Germany. Photo by Karl Johaentges/Getty

Essay/
Beauty and aesthetics
Beauty ≠ truth

Scientists prize elegant theories, but a taste for simplicity is a treacherous guide. And it doesn’t even look good

Philip Ball

Impressive hardware at Pacific Biosciences, a genome sequencing company. Photo by Gregg Segal/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Engineering
Machine envy

Giant instruments are giving us a sea of data. Can science find its way without any big ideas at the helm?

Philip Ball

Photo by Marshall Johnson/Gallerystock

Essay/
Art
Making good

Repairing things is about more than thrift. It is about creating something bold and original

Philip Ball

‘The greatness of nature, and the subtle and unspeakable care with which she works, is a source of unending contemplation’. A Mayfly nymph. Photo by Daniel Stoupin, www.microworldsphotography.com

Essay/
Biology
Small things

The discovery of a microscopic world shook the foundations of theology and created modern demons

Philip Ball

‘The monuments of wit survive’: Francis Bacon by George Henry Harlow, 1809. Credit akg-images/Sothebys

Essay/
History of science
Science fictions

Is the scientific endeavour always a bold and noble quest for truth? Not when it is writing its own history

Philip Ball

Recent comments