Shapes by Philip Ball: a book review


Shapes by Philip Ball

Two years ago, I reviewed Philip Ball’s Branches, the last volume of his excellent Nature’s Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts, following Shapes and Flow. However, a brief review of Shapes is also appropriate. The subject of this book, covered a century ago by D’Arcy Thompson, is endlessly fascinating, and Ball does it justice in this nicely illustrated volume. “Shapes” do not necessarily mean squares, circles, and triangles! Here are some public domain images related to topics in the book:

Ball even gives a nice experiment that can be done at home with gelatine, cobalt chloride, and concentrated ammonia (see picture here). Interestingly enough, this phenomenon was first observed in 1855, and is still not fully understood.

This little volume is well worth a read.

* * * *
Shapes by Philip Ball: 4 stars

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