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Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World [Kindle Edition]

Mark Miodownik
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)

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Book Description

New York Times Bestseller

“A thrilling account of the modern material world.” —Wall Street Journal
 
Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? These are the sorts of questions that renowned materials scientist Mark Miodownik constantly asks himself. Miodownik studies 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 explores the materials he encounters in a typical morning, from the steel in his razor to the foam in his sneakers. Full of enthralling tales of the miracles of engineering that permeate our lives, Stuff Matters will make you see stuff in a whole new way.
 
 


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

University professor Miodownik accomplishes a bit of a miracle here by making a discussion of materials science not only accessible but witty as well. Spinning out of a surprisingly personal introduction, this Bill Brysonesque study of steel, paper, chocolate, and more takes readers deeply inside the history of the 11 common materials captured in a photograph taken of the author relaxing on his outdoor deck. Miodownik has a genial style as he dives into the science of chemical compositions with aplomb, then pivots into thoughtful considerations of wine glasses, wrapping paper, joint replacements, and the concrete construction of the John F. Kennedy International Airport. With boundless enthusiasm, he turns considerations of the most mundane of topics into dazzling tours of ancient Rome and Willy Wonka’s factory, along with a look at the intricacies of Samurai sword making. At a time when science is maligned, first-rate storyteller Miodownik entertains and educates with pop-culture references, scholarly asides, and nods to everyone from the Six Million Dollar Man to the Luminère brothers. A delight for the curious reader. --Colleen Mondor

Review

"Miodownik's infectious curiosity and explanatory gifts will inspire [listeners] to take a closer look at the materials around them." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 34220 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Reprint edition (May 27, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00E78IFV2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,706 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at How Amazing Common Materials Can Be April 13, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Until recently I had never heard the words 'material science.' Sue I knew there were all kinds of amazing things done to make stuff in our lives, stronger, thinner, cheaper, better, and more energy efficient. But, being a child of the 60's I just figured this was 'better living through chemistry."

Boy was I wrong. And how wonderfully Miodownik has opened this world up in this delightful book. By taking ten ordinary materials you see in one picture, he constructs a marvelous world. Each chapter is named for a property of the material, and each begins from a very simple point. Some talk about the history of the material, others about its chemical structure, and others with a story from his life.

Using this as a starting point, he takes you deeper and deeper into this material and what makes it marvelous. For example I had no idea there were 5 or 6 different crystal structures for chocolate and why some of them make better candy than others. The book is full of these delightful bits of information.

Miodownik's style is a wonderful one for the layperson. Although he clearly knows so much more than he's telling you (and no doubt can say it much more technically), you always understand his terms, you don't fell burdened by too many formulas -- he always brings the discussion back to stuff we understand: paper money, movies, tea cups, stainless steel forks. What I love best is how his absolute delight in the materials of this world -- stuff -- comes through.

One very tiny warning:. Miodownik is British and uses British terms. Most of the time this isn't a problem, you'll know what he means, but once it tripped me up. In his chapter on foam, he talks about "jelly." To an American this is the stuff in jars that you spread on toast.
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Made Enjoyable May 3, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I loved this book.

I'd never heard about "material science" when I went to school, but biology left me cold, chemistry was absorbing in the laboratory, but the mathematical portion of the course was over my head. Needless to say, after that, physics was out. :-) But earth science I loved, and I would have loved a course on material science, especially if Mark Miodownik was the teacher. I found myself smiling as I read the science behind the everyday things in our lives: concrete, steel, paper, glass—even chocolate—and the most enjoyable part was that his prose was illuminating and the scientific concepts were clearly explained. Instead of being puzzled by the concepts, I found them completely understandable. Perhaps, for people who are more science-oriented it might have been simplistic, but I found it fascinating, especially the chapter about the silica aerogel.

Miodownik has an easygoing writing style that I really enjoyed, reminding me of Bill Bryson and James Burke. My only problem with this book is that I wish it could have been twice as long! I'll be looking forward to his next book, especially if concerning the same subject.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
We have two sons who are currently studying in the fourth- and fifth grades. They are sponges, absolutely ripe for music, math, language and science, especially when it is delivered in as entertaining a form as Mark Miodownik's Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World.

I picked up the book for myself, having just finished a couple rather dour non-fiction books on politics and race relations. Miodownik's enthusiasm for his subject and his cheery writing style captured my attention from the first chapter.

His book is a fascinating read delivered in a conversational style that makes it easy to share with my 11-year old and 10-year old sons. That's a rare treat in this medium, whereas we often share science documentaries on the Discovery Channel or PBS. I'm looking forward to having my sons share the book next with their grandfather next.

The book has a charming ability that makes it difficult to look at these materials - glass, concrete, steel and plastic - the same way again.

Rating: Five stars

On a related note, I've recently reviewed two illustrated books from DK Publishing that are for the young adult audience. I recommend both History Year by Year and Firearms: An Illustrated History and would love to see a similar treatment applied to Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In 1985, a stranger stabbed a schoolboy named Mark Miodownik in the back with a razor blade, inflicting a stab wound measuring thirteen centimeters. What the victim took away from this experience, besides the pain and an unsightly scar, was a feeling of awe that such a small weapon, "not much bigger than a postage stamp," could penetrate five layers of clothing. "The birth of my obsession with materials," Miodownik states, began that day. Mark started to ask questions about what makes substances behave the way they do and he has never stopped looking for answers. He studied at Oxford, became an engineer, and is now a professor of materials science at University College London.

In his fact-filled and entertaining book, "Stuff Matters," Miodownik tells us about the history, composition, and benefits of specific materials, some of which are commonly used but not fully understood by the average individual. Miodownik provides intriguing information that will propel readers to look at a drinking glass, stainless steel spoon, chocolate bar, book, plastic bag, concrete building, diamond ring, and even a pencil with new eyes. From the Stone Age to the present, materials have defined periods of human existence. During the Victorian era, steel was king. Silicon defined the twentieth century and helped create the information revolution that makes our high-tech lives possible. Miodownik also discusses how we interact with materials at a physical and emotional level. Are the things that we build, ingest, and wear merely practical or do they appeal to one or more of our five senses? Medically, we rely on materials more than ever before.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The author seems to be a much better materials scientist than writer
The book is wriiten with enthusiasm for its topic but its treatment of various materials is largely anecdotal. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Alex
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book if you are really interested in "stuff."
As a "manufacturing guy" materials interest me so I found most of this book very informative. There were a couple of chapters that seemed to drag on a bit. Read more
Published 6 days ago by william schaffer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Storytelling of Materials Science
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

“Stuff Matters" is an interesting popular science book on materials. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Book Shark
5.0 out of 5 stars Great conversational book on the wonders of material science
Mark does a fantastic job of communicating the fascinating world of materials science to the layperson who may not have a scientific pedigree. Read more
Published 6 days ago by JRedhawk11
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok.
I'm not sure about this book.

While somewhat interesting, I was not in love with the writing style. Read more
Published 7 days ago by JPM
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the time
A fascinating look at materials, how they were discovered, and how we relate to them.
Published 10 days ago by M. Spencer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
interestng start with a stabbing, the first metals and on from there. engrossing
Published 12 days ago by Michael Burke
4.0 out of 5 stars Lives Matter and So Does Stuff
Another good book for those who want to know more about science but don't have a technical background. Read more
Published 14 days ago by mike cottingham
5.0 out of 5 stars I love books like this and so should you
I love books like this and so should you.Buy it, then read it, then make your kids read it. They're probably not doing anything worthwhile anyway.
Published 15 days ago by david lober
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Brilliant !
Published 17 days ago by marcha.hunley
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