A "New York Times" BestsellerAn eye-opening adventure deep inside the everyday materials that surround us, packed with surprising stories and fascinating scienceWhy is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does a paper clip bend?Read more...
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A "New York Times" BestsellerAn eye-opening adventure deep inside the everyday materials that surround us, packed with surprising stories and fascinating scienceWhy is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does a paper clip bend? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that Mark Miodownik is constantly asking himself. A globally-renowned materials scientist, Miodownik has spent his life exploring objects as ordinary as an envelope and as unexpected as concrete cloth, uncovering the fascinating secrets that hold together our physical world.In "Stuff Matters," Miodownik entertainingly examines the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor and the graphite in his pencil to the foam in his sneakers and the concrete in a nearby skyscraper. He offers a compendium of the most astounding histories and marvelous scientific breakthroughs in the material world, including:
- The imprisoned alchemist who saved himself from execution by creating the first European porcelain.
- The hidden gem of the Milky Way, a planet five times the size of Earth, made entirely of diamond.
- Graphene, the thinnest, strongest, stiffest material in existence only a single atom thick that could be used to make entire buildings sensitive to touch.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-03-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Miodownik, director of the Institute of Making at University College London, writes a fascinating introduction to materials science, a discipline unfamiliar to most outside it. To “tell the story of stuff” he takes a photo of himself enjoying a cup of tea on his London rooftop, and proceeds to examine 10 of the materials in the photo. These materials (concrete, glass, plastics, etc.) are ubiquitous in the modern world and possess their own chemistry and history. Miodownik includes himself in his discussions so that, in the chapter on biomaterials, readers learn about his fillings as well as his disappointment that when he broke a leg as a child he didn’t receive the same upgrades as the Six Million Dollar Man. His humor helps highlight such facts as we are one of the first generations to not taste our cutlery, due to the properties of stainless steel, or that “the biggest diamond yet discovered... is orbiting a pulsar star” and is “five times the size of Earth.” In his chapter on paper, he describes the book as “a fortress for words,” while he regards chocolate as “one of our greatest engineering creations.” Miodownik’s infectious curiosity and explanatory gifts will inspire readers to take a closer look at the materials around them. (June)