No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674035669
ISBN-10: 0674035666
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Holy cow! It's exceptionally rare that science is rendered in such lucid, thoughtful, charming fashion. But I am not sure I've ever encountered a beautiful book as important as this one, or vice-versa. 'Awesome' is an overused phrase these days, but No Small Matter is exactly, totally, gratifyingly that. (Kurt Andersen, host of PRI's Studio 360)

It is hard to grasp what we cannot see, even harder when not even a microscope can see it. With unmatched clarity and arresting elegance, Frankel and Whitesides have designed a narrative and visual voyage into the nanouniverse, revealing its basic constructs without sacrificing its magic. (Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA: The Museum of Modern Art)

As modern science has explored the deepest foundations of the physical world, its discoveries have become ever harder to make sense of, ever more remote from everyday life. Yet these same discoveries have transformed our everyday lives, and continue to do so. Felice Frankel and George Whitesides are masters at the art of envisioning the invisible. In this beautiful and beautifully written book, they open our minds' eyes to the thrillingly enigmatic world that we inhabit, embody, and create. (Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen)

Seemingly invisible objects such as viruses and molecules are imaged in rich detail through high-powered microscopes and photography. (Science News 2009-11-21)

Whitesides, a professor at Harvard University, is one of the most productive chemists in the world and arguably one of the most inventive. He brings this spirit to the book, an entertaining jaunt through the world of the micro- and nanoscale. The short essays, each dripping with enthusiasm for the topic, are roughly themed around the importance of scientific endeavour on this scale to such areas as medicine, modern computing and the quantum world. It's not just the text that playfully explores some of the stranger aspects of the invisible world. Frankel's photography can be equally creative, most obviously in a photo of a quantum apple with a shadow that appears to belong to a cube. The pictures are a mix of traditional photography, CGI and images produced using various microscopic techniques, and are dazzling in the best coffee-table tradition. The text is just as vibrant, which makes cover-to-cover reading a slightly exhausting experience—but worth it when it rewards the reader with such gems as why young children at a party behave like cellular molecules, or how Beethoven had much in common with plants. (Colin Barras New Scientist 2009-11-14)

No Small Matter conveys science on the nanoscale through a remarkable series of photographs… This is a brilliant book that will help a wide readership to appreciate the wonders of the very small. (Andrew Briggs Times Higher Education 2009-12-10)

Reorienting our eye to the nanoscale is No Small Matter. This coffee-table book juxtaposes images and ideas to encapsulate the significance of size and shape… Exploring where art meets science, the authors search for promising paths to make small-scale science more intuitive… Frankel and Whitesides's book adds gravitas and nuance to the popularization of nanotechnology, articulating its interest and vast opportunities. (Jeremy Baumberg Nature 2009-12-17)

No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale by Felice C. Frankel and George M. Whitesides shows a world that is beyond our senses and reality. Through text, beautiful pictures, and illustrations, No Small Matter shows the small and (some of) the large things that we are ignorant about or take for granted. (Edmond Woychowsky TechRepublic 2010-01-04)

[Frankel and Whitesides] present a game, insightful attempt to illustrate reality at the very smallest scales, where lengths are measured in billionths of a meter… Frankel's intricate work reveals a world of unexpected textures and landscapes… This visual and intellectual treat is best absorbed at leisure, with ample time for pondering the new relationships each topic reveals. (Publishers Weekly 2010-01-25)

A book that's elegant in appearance, elegant in its images of the nanoworld and elegant in prose. (Robert Fulford National Post 2010-04-06)

About the Author

Felice C. Frankel is Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

George M. Whitesides is Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, Harvard University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674035666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674035669
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 10.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Science photographer Felice Frankel is a research scientist in the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received awards and grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, among others. Felice was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design and was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award at Brooklyn College, CUNY and the Lennart Nilsson Award for Scientific Photography.

For more information: www.felicefrankel.com

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Ward on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an exceptionally cool book. It's an eclectic look at how important the things we cannot see are in our daily lives. Have you ever had a pregnancy test? Played a viola? Listened to a vinyl record? Lit a candle? Read this book and learn about what happened at the microscopic level. The pictures are extraordinary, and the text is clear, vibrant and informal. Strongly recommended. Don't miss the section at the end (Five Not-So-Easy Pieces) where the photographer explains how she obtained some of the images. I love the glass apple with the square shadow.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By George Laugelli on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
For the last couple of days I have been browsing through No Small Matter: Science on the Nanoscale, a collaboration between art and science that has yielded a stunning new way of looking at a world we never see. The goal is to present through photography a way of looking at and thinking about how life and nature work at the smallest scale.

What I find so powerful about the book is the way in which it leads the reader to understand how little we know about the such fundamental things as water and the role it plays in the chemistry of living and non-living things. That's assuming we know exactly where that line is, which after reading this book you might not be so sure about any more.

This is a wonderful work of art and some of the most lucid science writing I have ever come across. Makes you thing anew about the vast void that exists in our understanding of just about anything.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Deeth Keynes-Neff on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This lovely coffee-table book contains 60 full-page illustrations, each accompanied by an explanatory essay. The illustrations came from Felice Frankel, who is on the staff of both MIT and Harvard; the essays are by George Whitesides, a famous chemist at Harvard.

Combining art and science is not an easy task. The Frankel-Whitesides agenda worked most naturally for the pictures numbered 15 (laminar flow), 37, (microreactor) and 40 (Christmas tree mixer). In all three, Frankel photographed a microchemistry gadget and Whitesides explained how it worked. At the other extreme, the essay accompanying illustration number 58 clearly explains how a fuel cell works but the adjacent photograph shows a crumpled-up sample of the proton-selective membrane taken out of a fuel cell. What did we learn from the photo? The membrane is black and crumples easily. If the membrane had been white and stiff, the fuel cell would still have worked in the way that the essay explained.

Illustration 34 is entitled 'Counting on Two Fingers.' It would have been better entitled 'Counting on One Finger.' The word 'binary' refers to two states of one finger: raised and down.

On pages 153 to 163, Frankel describes the techniques she used to produce the illustrations; it's a fascinating story. However, I got hung up on her explanation of the carbon nanotube, illustration #7 in the book. On page 158, she says that she placed a rolled transparent picture of a graphite sheet on her flatbed scanner and obtained the image that she processed later into the final illustration. I tried the 'cross eyed stereo' test on her final product, and the carbon nanotube stood up in a beautiful, three-dimensional view.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ty Hyderally on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Most books on nanotechnology are either boring or so far over the average head that they are basically useless. This book is not in either of those categories. Actually it presents the subject through pictures that keep it very interesting. It also helps to open the mind up to the things that go on in our world everyday that we cannot see. It helps us to open our eyes and "see" all those things that we cannot see!
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