Philip Ball

December 13, 2006

For sometime now, I’ve been reading a popular science book titled Designing the Molecular World: Chemistry at the Frontier by Philip Ball(you can find a short biography at his site). It’s a decent book which I will recommend to anyone who is interested in popular science.

So, Imagine my surprise when I found his blog titled homunculus(via Highly Allochthonous) ! It is filled with some great scientific writing.

Just to give you a taste –

Are chemists designers?
Not according to a provocative article by Martin Jansen and Christian Schön in Angewandte Chemie. They argue that ‘design’ in the strict sense doesn’t come into the process of making molecules, because the freedom of chemists is so severely constrained by the laws of physics and chemistry…

Chemists won’t like this, because they (rightly) pride themselves in their creativity and often liken their crafting of molecules to a kind of art form….

It’s flat, it’s hot, and it’s very weird

Graphene, that is. I have been talking to some fellows about this new wonder-stuff, which wowed the crowds at the American Physical Society meeting in March. Mainly to Andre Geim at Manchester, who is one of those wry chaps you feel you can inherently trust not to load you down with hype. I’m working on a feature on this for New Scientist, which will delve into the decidedly wacky physics of these single-atom-thick sheets of pure carbon. It’s not your ordinary two-dimensional semimetal (yes I know, name me another), mainly because the electrons behave as though they are travelling at close to the speed of light. So here’s an everyday material in which one can investigate Dirac’s relativistic quantum mechanics, which normally applies only in the kind of astrophysical environment you wouldn’t want to end up in by mistake…

Further, I came across an article titled Newton’s Curse written by him in his webpage. It talks about the ‘alchem’ical interests of Newton.

And here is an excellent article titled Beyond Words : Science and Visual Theatre which I liked a lot. The summary reads

Science is becoming increasingly visible in the theatre, where it is often regarded as a fertile source of ideas and metaphors. I argue that we should not overlook the potential of science as an abundant well of visual imagery for the theatre. Scientific research and discovery can provide new physical languages for theatrical expression, and new ways of looking at and depicting the world. Scientists at the nexus of experiment and discovery have often seen things never before observed by human eyes; such visions, recreated or re-imagined for a theatre audience, can stimulate the kind of wonderment that is central to the theatrical experience.


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