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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's all this stuff?
Have you ever stared at a bowl of jello and wondered what it would look like if you took all the water out of it? Probably not, but in the 1930s a chemist by the nam,e of Samuel Kistler did, and he managed to do so by replacing the water in the gel with a pressurized gas. He called the resultant material an aerogel. Kistler went on to do this trick with a number of...
Published 8 months ago by Michael J. Edelman

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too advanced for young boy
Too adult for my grandson, for whom I purchased it.
Published 5 months ago by Faith Blizzard


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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What's all this stuff?, April 2, 2014
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
Have you ever stared at a bowl of jello and wondered what it would look like if you took all the water out of it? Probably not, but in the 1930s a chemist by the nam,e of Samuel Kistler did, and he managed to do so by replacing the water in the gel with a pressurized gas. He called the resultant material an aerogel. Kistler went on to do this trick with a number of materials, including silicon dioxide, which is what glass is made from, and created a silicon aerogel- a rigid, open-celled foam that was 98 percent air. It was the lightest, most effective insulator yet discovered, and It was also fireproof. A solid gas, as one put it. A miracle material that should have been revolutionary.

Kistler patented his aerogels and licensed them to Monsanto, and the world pretty much ignored them. No one needed an expensive ultra-light, low density material in the 1930s. It wasn't until the 1980s that aerogels were rediscovered by NASA, who found them an idea product not only for insulating spacecraft, but for collecting samples in outer space.

This sort of story fascinate author and materials scientist Mark Miodownik, and he has collected several stories about the artificial materials that shape our world. Some are as simple (and yet world-changing) as paper, glass, and concrete. Others, like graphene, are at the frontiers of research. Some materials are used to make buildings, and some are used to create artificial bones and organs.

Miodownik is a man possessed of infinite curiosity and the ability to be fascinated by the smallest details- qualities that no doubt served him well in his professional life, and that serve him well here, as he does a very good job of explaining to the lay reader exactly why some paper is smooth and glossy, why spoons don't have their own flavor, or how clay can be turned into fine porcelain. He is also possessed of a fine sense of humor that makes this even more of a pleasure to read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific scientific, March 19, 2014
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Who knew you could burn a diamond? Or that it would turn into graphite? Traverses history, molecular construction and society in its survey of everyday items. The real bonuses when you come across chapters that pose questions you'd never contemplated before. What chemical process turns concrete from a liquid to hard rock? How come chocolate melts in your mouth? Perhaps some better illustrations or photos could have enhanced the presentation but ... I wanted more.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much information about our man-made world, November 24, 2013
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
This book is written so that the average person can understand the history and evolution
of many of the products we use and enjoy every day like iron and steel, concrete, paper, ceramics, chocolate, etc. It is written in an entertaining and personal style that anyone can enjoy while learning a lot. Mark Miodownik is a well known Professor of Materials and Society at UCL but is able to make this book fun to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to material science, August 13, 2014
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I liked the personalized stories that introduced each material type. The scientific explanations were well explained and easy to grasp.

Recommend to anyone wanting to scratch below the surface of the 'stuff' we live with.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding science writing!, November 20, 2014
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
This is, without a doubt, the most interesting, relevant, informative and enjoyable book I have read in years. The author grabs the reader's attention and makes them hunger for a greater understanding of the material "stuff" that populates our daily lives. I strongly recommend this book.

I especially recommend it for high school and college students who are trying to decide whether a career in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) is right for them. If they have any curiosity at all, they will gobble this book up. If only all scientists and engineers could write this well!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book is fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone who live ..., September 24, 2014
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dbgolden (Boston, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. I would recommend it to anyone who live on planet Earth. He takes seemingly incomprehensible topics and makes them not only easy to understand, but a marvel to behold. An awesome book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, August 27, 2014
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
This book is fascinating! It really gives you an appreciation for the things that make up our daily lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun book, August 14, 2014
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
A clear popular book on materials science and anthropology. Lots of fun, very informative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, August 31, 2014
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An excellent and fascinating exploration of "stuff" for the layman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, October 11, 2014
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This review is from: Stuff Matters (Paperback)
well written....should be required reading for engineers
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Stuff Matters
Stuff Matters by Mark A. Miodownik (Paperback - March 6, 2014)
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