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Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water (1999)

par Philip Ball

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266478,128 (3.81)5
One of the four elements of classical antiquity, water is central to the environment of our planet. In Life's Matrix, Philip Ball writes of water's origins, history, and unique physical character. As a geological agent, water shapes mountains, canyons, and coastlines, and when unleashed in hurricanes and floods its destructive power is awesome. Ball's provocative exploration of water on other planets highlights the possibilities of life beyond Earth. Life's Matrix also examines the grim realities of depletion of natural resources and its effects on the availability of water in the twenty-first century.… (plus d'informations)
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» Voir aussi les 5 mentions

4 sur 4
When I started this book I had the impression that it was going to be a bit superficial. In fact, it is anything but superficial. In fact, maybe Phillip Ball covers a bit too much and maybe a slightly more limited coverage with a bit more depth would be beneficial. Nevertheless he does manage to cover a great deal of surface chemistry and draws out the evidence for water having a range of unusual properties. Maybe a few coloured pictures might have been beneficial and maybe some better diagrams about the polarisation and hydrogen bonding of water molecules would have been helpful.
He managed to make a reasonable story about the way that water is drawn up huge trees.......probably a better explanation than I have seen elsewhere ....though he doesn't use the concept of water "potential" which might have made it easier to understand. His material about alkaline soils could have used a slightly better critique. He doesn't really seem to understand the concept of sodic soils that are generally alkaline but might be acid, high in sodium ions and crack significantly as they dry (thus tearing plant roots apart). And there is no discussion of the properties of water in the double layer between clay particles ...which I would have thought would be an interesting topic as part of the surface chemistry effects of water.
He does go into some detail about the multiple forms of ice; he debunks some famous apparent scientific breakthroughs...such as polywater and low temperature fusion and water with a "memory" after multiple dilutions.
On the whole an interesting and engaging book which covers a lot of ground. Nevertheless he is quick to point out that there is still a lot that we don't know about water's structure and surface chemistry. I give it 5 stars ( )
  booktsunami | Dec 4, 2019 |
I picked up this book because I was curious to see how someone could write a 380 page book about water. Ball does so by talking about everything connected with water, the hydrosphere, its chemical nature, biological functions, and rounds off the work with a consideration of some of the more prominent "myths" associated with water: "polywater" and homeopathy. This makes for a mixed brew: different readers will find different chapters more or less interesting according to their interests - I would have preferred a little more on the ecology and a little less on cellular chemistry - but Ball does a good job of making it all readable, informative, and relatively straightforward. ( )
  MisterJJones | Aug 24, 2008 |
I found this slightly disappointing in that I was hoping for much more of a discussion of the chemistry of water, and instead got a whole lot of unexpected material on issues like the geology of water (which were, however, interesting).

Having complained that the book was not what I expected, it remains true that Philip Ball is a superior pop science author and that this book is entertaining, interesting, and well worth reading. ( )
  name99 | Nov 23, 2006 |
Biographies of not-people I always find entertaining.
  sorryforthemess | Aug 4, 2006 |
4 sur 4
"Ball does an excellent job of explaining how the physical and chemical peculiarities of water give rise to its unique properties, which make life on Earth possible."
ajouté par wademlee | modifierLibrary Journal, Wade Lee
 

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One of the four elements of classical antiquity, water is central to the environment of our planet. In Life's Matrix, Philip Ball writes of water's origins, history, and unique physical character. As a geological agent, water shapes mountains, canyons, and coastlines, and when unleashed in hurricanes and floods its destructive power is awesome. Ball's provocative exploration of water on other planets highlights the possibilities of life beyond Earth. Life's Matrix also examines the grim realities of depletion of natural resources and its effects on the availability of water in the twenty-first century.

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