Philip Ball

Contributing Writer

Art for "Quantum Leaps, Long Assumed to Be Instantaneous, Take Time"
quantum physics

Quantum Leaps, Long Assumed to Be Instantaneous, Take Time

An experiment caught a quantum system in the middle of a jump — something the originators of quantum mechanics assumed was impossible.

Art for "Neuroscience Readies for a Showdown Over Consciousness Ideas"
neuroscience

Neuroscience Readies for a Showdown Over Consciousness Ideas

To make headway on the mystery of consciousness, some researchers are trying a rigorous new way to test competing theories.

Art for "Mysterious Quantum Rule Reconstructed from Scratch"
quantum physics

Mysterious Quantum Rule Reconstructed From Scratch

The new work promises to give researchers a better grip on the core mystery of quantum mechanics.

Art for "Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems"
quantum physics

Why the Many-Worlds Interpretation Has Many Problems

The idea that the universe splits into multiple realities with every measurement has become an increasingly popular proposed solution to the mysteries of quantum mechanics. But this “many-worlds interpretation” is incoherent, Philip Ball argues in this adapted excerpt from his new book Beyond Weird.

Illustration for "Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats Probe the Boundary of the Quantum World"
quantum physics

Real-Life Schrödinger’s Cats Probe the Boundary of the Quantum World

Recent experiments have put relatively large objects into quantum states, illuminating the processes by which the ordinary world emerges out of the quantum one.

Photo of Michela Massimi
Q&A

Questioning Truth, Reality and the Role of Science

In an era when untestable ideas such as the multiverse hold sway, Michela Massimi defends science from those who think it hopelessly unmoored from physical reality.

520 px illustration of a quantum computer producing errors
The Future of Quantum Computing

The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy

Quantum computers should soon be able to beat classical computers at certain basic tasks. But before they’re truly powerful, researchers have to overcome a number of fundamental roadblocks.

Quantum reconstruction
quantum physics

Quantum Theory Rebuilt From Simple Physical Principles

Physicists are trying to rewrite the axioms of quantum theory from scratch in an effort to understand what it all means. The problem? They’ve been almost too successful.

Illustration: life as a computation efficiently storing & using predictive info
information theory

How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder

Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics.

About the author

Philip Ball is a science writer and author based in London who contributes frequently to Nature, New Scientist, Prospect, Nautilus and The Atlantic, among other publications. His books include Bright Earth, Invisible and most recently, The Water Kingdom.