Philip Ball

Philip Ball is a freelance science writer in London and author of Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything (2012).

Philip Ball Published May 25, 2012

Soft Matter

A process for making wavy tubes in a controlled way could lead to the predictable fabrication of complex shapes.

Philip Ball Published June 29, 2012

Fluid Dynamics

Some droplets throw out a fine spray as they hit a liquid surface because of a hidden pattern of fluid flow.

Philip Ball Published August 31, 2012

Interdisciplinary Physics | Complex Systems

Some ecological communities may be acutely sensitive to the survival of certain key species, thanks to the details of the species’ interdependence, according to simulations.

Philip Ball Published October 19, 2012

Fluid Dynamics | Biological Physics

Orderly flow in fluid extracted from a living cell results from the spontaneous organization of randomly-oriented, microscopic forces.

Philip Ball Published November 30, 2012

Biological Physics | Mechanics

The flexibility of a DNA strand affects its activities in cells and depends on its length. Atomic-scale computer simulations begin to explain why the length matters.

Philip Ball Published January 4, 2013

Biological Physics

The near-uniform leaf size of the tallest trees is set by the requirements of their vascular network.

Philip Ball Published March 1, 2013


Intense light pulses that can precisely sculpt solid materials also generate dazzling rainbow patterns that reveal information about the surface.

Philip Ball Published April 1, 2013

Fluid Dynamics

New theory and experiments explain why the lengthy strands that dangle from a spoon of honey can get so long without breaking up.

Philip Ball Published May 17, 2013

Electronics | Medical Physics

A new technique for powering medical implants wirelessly could allow them to shrink to sub-millimeter sizes in the future, according to theory and simulations.

Philip Ball Published July 19, 2013

Quantum Information | Statistical Physics

A proposed device can act like Maxwell’s famous demon and as a tiny refrigerator “powered” by the entropy contained in information, rather than by an external source of energy.

Philip Ball Published August 9, 2013

Fluid Dynamics | Biological Physics

Navigation of gel-like liquids requires an optimal balance between fluid properties and the geometry of helical propellers.

Philip Ball Published October 18, 2013

Soft Matter

Bent particles have a preferred direction of Brownian motion.

Philip Ball Published November 15, 2013

Physical Chemistry

Experiments and calculations reveal the chemical reactions that cause the brilliant red in ancient paintings to turn dark over time, as well as potential preservation measures.

Philip Ball Published December 11, 2013

Soft Matter | Biological Physics | Complex Systems

Tiny particles that actively move through a fluid exhibit various modes of organization that are still not fully understood.

Philip Ball Published January 17, 2014

Plasma Physics | Geophysics

Researchers measured a spectrum of light emitted by the rare and elusive ball lightning.

Philip Ball Published February 14, 2014

Materials Science

A new computational model of porous materials like sandstone shows what happens microscopically when the material is stressed to the breaking point.

Philip Ball Published March 18, 2014

Plasma Physics

Researchers create shock waves in a nanosized ball of plasma.

Philip Ball Published April 4, 2014

Electronics | Quantum Physics

Heat flow carried by electrons in a thermoelectric device requires a surprisingly wide “pipe”—a rare case where quantum effects have macroscopic consequences.

Philip Ball Published May 2, 2014

Interdisciplinary Physics

The basic laws of physics don’t obviously prohibit it, but the criteria for a genuine “memory” do.

Philip Ball Published May 23, 2014

Biological Physics

A new theory suggests that bacterial cells regulate their size by directly measuring their increase in volume during growth.

Philip Ball Published June 27, 2014

Astrophysics | Cosmology

A simple equation can describe the large-scale bubbles that appear in the dark matter distributed throughout the Universe, and it applies to voids of a wide range of sizes and ages.

Philip Ball Published July 11, 2014

Fluid Dynamics

Whether a droplet hitting a solid surface flattens smoothly or forms a ragged splash depends on the gas surrounding it.

Philip Ball Published September 5, 2014

Atomic and Molecular Physics

A new technique uses up to 30 Bose-Einstein condensates simultaneously to make ultraprecise measurements.

Philip Ball Published September 26, 2014

Nanophysics | Acoustics

A single molecule can work as a vibration sensor that can detect displacements nearly as small as a proton.

Philip Ball Published October 24, 2014

Metamaterials | Mechanics

Squeezing a holey rubber slab changes its stiffness over a wide range in the direction perpendicular to the squeeze.

Philip Ball Published January 5, 2015

Atomic and Molecular Physics

By measuring gravity with cold atoms at three different heights simultaneously, a team determined a new property of a gravitational field.

Philip Ball Published January 16, 2015

Biological Physics

A simple model of heart tissue that represents the architecture of cell-cell communication more realistically than previous models spontaneously develops faulty electrical waves that mimic a dangerous heart condition.

Philip Ball Published February 27, 2015

Quantum Information | Optics | Quantum Physics

A proposed device would extend a quantum entanglement scheme previously demonstrated for visible photons into the microwave regime, where it could boost radar performance.

Philip Ball Published March 20, 2015

Metamaterials | Acoustics | Topological Insulators

A proposed acoustic version of a material that conducts electricity along its surface could lead to an improved way to hide submarines from sonar.