Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
  • RRP: £10.99
  • You Save: £2.75 (25%)
FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books.
In stock.
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon.
Gift-wrap available.
Quantity:1
Critical Mass: How One Th... has been added to your Basket
Used: Good | Details
Sold by Tree Savers
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: A used book that is in good, clean condition. Your item will be picked, packed and posted FREE to you within the UK by Amazon, also eligible for super saver delivery.
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another Paperback – 3 Feb 2005


See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
£8.24
£5.00 £0.01
£8.24 FREE Delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. In stock. Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another + The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few + The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Price For All Three: £22.72

Buy the selected items together


Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (3 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099457865
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099457862
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,454 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Ball is a freelance science writer. He worked at Nature for over 20 years, first as an editor for physical sciences (for which his brief extended from biochemistry to quantum physics and materials science) and then as a Consultant Editor. His writings on science for the popular press have covered topical issues ranging from cosmology to the future of molecular biology.

Product Description

Review

"Exquisitely produced and painstakingly researched... Ball writes patiently and eloquently.. Exciting... A rousing call-to-arms, and an elegant answer to the shallow tradition of British empiricism." (Independent)

"In his fascinating new book, Critical Mass, Philip Ball tells the story of this research in a comprehensive and often captivating way... Ball delves far beyond today's headlines... Impressively clear and breathtaking in scope... Substantial, impeccably researched and...persuasive. For anyone who would like to learn about the intellectual ferment at the surprising junction of physics and social science, Critical Mass is the place to start." (Nature)

"Lucid, accessible and engaging... Ball makes a persuasive, comprehensive case and it's a welcome antidote to popular individualistic thought." (Glasgow Herald)

"Critical Mass fizzes with ideas and insights" (The Guardian)

"more than a book, this in an intellectual curiosity" (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

The winner of the Aventis Prize for Science Books, this is a fascinating exploration of the age-old question: are there 'laws of nature' that guide human affairs? Is there anything inevitable about the ways humans behave and organise themselves? Do we have complete freedom in creating our societies, or are we trapped by 'human nature'?

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stucumber VINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback
Critical Mass provides an overview and investigation into the study of human society and interactions using physics-based models.

The book gets off to a roaring start, beginning with exploring the models used throughout. Then it moves to looking at how they can be applied to crowds and other physical human interactions such as traffic flow. Philip Ball, I think, succeeds here most in showing how the physics-based models apply to real-life behaviour.

Where he least succeeds for me is in relation to economics but this is mostly because I find this particular subject dull and I've recently read Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb and it's left me somewhat sceptical of making any sense of economics. Indeed Black Swan The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable makes a good (if cynical) companion book as it covers the role of chance occurences more fully.

Later sections on networks such as the internet and our social connectedness fare better. They don't contain much new information but they're very interesting nonetheless as the author has an engaging style.

All very interesting and well recommended.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By M. Wilkinson on 9 Dec. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yes, without a doubt, Philip Ball's greatest book to date. He is probably better known among scientists than laypersons as he was for a long time editor at Nature one of the worlds top multi-disciplinary science journals. He has a degree in chemistry and a doctorate in physics but he seems to know a great deal more, when he mentions literature he sounds like an english professor but enough about the man - what about his book?
The joy of Ball's erudition is that he can speak intelligently on any subject which must have been useful at Nature and is essential when he tackles popular science books such as this. His books are not for the lazy but curious person, to get joy out of Ball's books you must be prepared to think hard, concentrate a little and then the rewards will come. In this book, Ball discusses the startling results that physicists have had when applying physics to social phenomena - war, business, traffic. People are particles is a common theme. Obviously classical physics or even quantum phenomena are not going to predict a single persons actions, but what about a million? As it turns out there are parallels which we run in to again and again. One fascinating analogy - and it is more than just analogy really, thats the whole point - is how traffic slowing to a jam is much like water freezing. Phase changes and critical points come up repeatedly. Reading this book was absolutely fascinating. I looked forward to my bus rides to work so I'd have another chance to read some more.
The diagrams ease comprehension and the writing is lucid and entertaining throughout. There is even some dry humour which I found refreshing.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. McCLEAN on 20 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book asks whether there are underlying natural laws that govern the endeavours of humans in the same way that natural laws govern processes in nature, such as the growth of snow crystals, phase shifts between liquid and gas, and the way in which metal changes from being magnetised to non-magnetised when heated. To help him address this question Ball introduces tools commonly used in the physical sciences to analyse and simulate natural processes.

In the initial chapters the author describes the history of social science, economics and statistics. He tells how tools of the state, statistics, were adopted in the physical sciences. Then ball looks at processes in human society such as the formation of traffic jams, the pattern of movement in a crowd trying to escape a burning building, the growth pattern of cities, Internet morphology and what it owes to The Cold War years. In all these areas he demonstrates common traits that can be used to analyse and understand the processes in operation.

Ball describes the application of these tools in the natural sciences and then reports on how they have been used in the analysis of human behaviour and such things as the movement of share prices in the stock market.

It is Ball's contention that there are fundamental patterns that describe many behaviours and trends in human endeavour, from the voting patterns in elections, through the distribution of wealth in nations, to the boom and bust nature of the world's economies, and that understanding of these fundamentals will improve decision making and planning.

He also reports on simulations carried out to assess the effectiveness and otherwise of different forms of government, i.e. dictatorship, democracy, etc... This is most enlightening and interesting.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Chant on 22 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
Like other reviewers, at times I found this really hard work to read - coming as I did from a non-science background. The first few chapters are necessarily tough, as they set a lot of the groundwork and understanding for the rest of the book. I recommend sticking with it, as reading this book offered me a different perspective on 'how things are' to many of the more arts-based ones I've tended to be more influenced by previously. If we're to understand the challenges society faces going forward, then it's important to make the effort and engage with this sort of thinking and rationale - even if I finished the book not entirely convinced by his central arguments.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews



Feedback