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Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another by [Philip Ball]

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Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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Length: 529 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ball (an NBCC award finalist for Bright Earth) enthusiastically demonstrates how the application of the laws of modern physics to the social sciences can greatly enrich our understanding of the laws of human behavior: we can, he says, make predictions about society without negating the individual's free will. He opens his lucid and compelling study with an account of Thomas Hobbes's mechanistic political philosophy and shows how Adam Smith, Kant, Auguste Comte and John Stuart Mill expanded on Hobbes's scientific but anti-utopian theories of government and society. Ball notes a return to such a scientific view of the social sciences in the past two decades, and he examines the application of physical laws to economics, politics, even the inevitable synchronization of a theater audience's applause. First, he exhaustively details the development of key concepts in contemporary physics, such as self-organization, phase transitions, flocking behavior, chaos, bifurcation points, preferential attachment networks and evolutionary game theory. Next, he shows how social scientists apply these concepts to the study of human organization. Ball's primary assertion is that we must attend to the relationship between global phenomena and local actions. In other words, noticing the impact of individual decisions on laws and institutions is more worthwhile than trying to predict the behavior of individuals (as Ball's discussion of the logic of voting habits makes all too clear). Ball's carefully argued disagreements with conventional economic theory make for particularly engaging reading. Nonspecialist readers who enjoy a steep learning curve will relish the thought-provoking discussions Ball provides. Photos, illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Review

Praise for Critical Mass, Winner of the 2005 Aventis Prize for Science Books:
"A wide-ranging and dazzlingly informed book about the science of interactions. I can promise you'll be amazed." --Bill Bryson, chair of the 2005 Aventis General Prize Judging Panel

"Philip Ball makes physics sexy again in Critical Mass."-Elissa Schappel, Vanity Fair

"It's lively and wonderfully informative."--George Scialabba, The Boston Globe

"Fascinating. . . impressively clear and breathtaking in scope. . . substantial, impeccably researched . . . 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." - Stephen Strogatz, Nature
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
61 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2019
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Top international reviews

gary clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent read, although not original.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 6, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars the deepest depth of them all
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2017
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Dr Z Bobich
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 30, 2017
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S M Wilkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 4, 2015
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Perseus
3.0 out of 5 stars Dröge Aufbereitung eines spannenden Themas
Reviewed in Germany on April 7, 2013
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P. McCLEAN
4.0 out of 5 stars Broad ranging, thought provoking book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 20, 2012
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The Emperor
4.0 out of 5 stars Efficient popular science
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 5, 2010
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Victor Hugo dos Santos Reis
4.0 out of 5 stars Ótimo Livro
Reviewed in Brazil on December 29, 2016
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dan hunter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in Canada on April 3, 2017
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Jitesh Dixit
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in India on August 30, 2016
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Clément
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Reviewed in Canada on January 26, 2016
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tyrone
3.0 out of 5 stars good but not so good
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 15, 2013
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M. Wilkinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Philip Ball's Masterpiece
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 8, 2005
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oscar
4.0 out of 5 stars It makes you think deep
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 9, 2016
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