- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (March 17, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0544483944
- ISBN-13: 978-0544483941
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 534 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World Reprint Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Stuff Matters is about hidden wonders, the astonishing properties of materials we think boring, banal and unworthy of attention...It’s possible this science and these stories have been told elsewhere, but like the best chocolatiers, Miodownik gets the blend right." —The New York Times Book Review
"[Ordinary objects] have found their poet in Mark Miodownik...A thrilling account of the modern material world...Though I blush to recall it, once I had the impression that materials science was dull and pedestrian. Stuff Matters has changed my mind; now I find myself running my fingers along things and sighing. Mr. Miodownik's lively, eloquent book changes the way one looks at the world." —Wall Street Journal
"Midownik dives into every detail...[with] joyous curiosity." —Entertainment Weekly
"Miodownik, a materials scientist, explains the history and science behind things such as paper, glass, chocolate and concrete with an infectious enthusiasm." —Scientific American
"Materials scientist Miodownik intertwines humorous vignettes of daily life in London with subatomic behavior to explain the feats of engineering that brought us samurai swords, skyscrapers, pool balls and even chocolate. From concrete in Roman architecture to atom-thick graphene, Miodownik builds on a historical framework to give readers an idea of future applications. Clever in every sense of the word, Stuff Matters may leave you looking at windows rather than through them." —Discover
"Stuff Matters makes the seemingly banal objects of our everyday lives into an endless source of wonder, dreams and possibility." —Salon
"Superb storytelling...fascinating...a delightful book on a subject that is relatively rarely written about." —Popular Science
"Entertaining and informative...[Stuff Matters] delivers on both the scientific and personal levels. Its anecdotes, inviting prose and unusual chapter titles introduce both the author and his field of research, materials science." —Dallas Morning News
"I stayed up all night reading this book. Miodownik writes with such knowledge, such enthusiasm, such a palpable love for his subject." —Oliver Sacks, author of Hallucinations
"Concrete, chocolate, paper, porcelain; this is a fascinating and informative account of the ‘stuff’ of our everyday lives." —Penny Le Couteur, coauthor of Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History
"It is a rare thing for a true scientist to be able to explain how things work so clearly to the layperson—and even rarer to do so in such an entertaining fashion. No one who reads this book will look at the world quite the same again." —Kate Ascher, author of The Works, The Heights, and The Way to Go
"[A] wonderful account of the materials that have made the modern world…Miodownik writes well enough to make even concrete sparkle." —Financial Times
"A deftly written, immensely enjoyable little book." —Observer (UK)
"[Miodownik] makes even the most everyday seemthrilling."—The Sunday Times (UK)
"Enthralling... a mission to re-acquaint us with the wonders of the fabric that sustains our lives." —Guardian (UK)
"Entertaining...These materials make fascinating reading." —Materials Today (UK)
"A great look at the science and stories behind the seemingly mundane substances that make up almost everything." —Physics Central
"A compact, intense guided tour through a handful of physical materials, from concrete to chocolate, revealing what makes them profoundly affect our lives...[Miodownik] writes with enthusiasm, empathy and gratitude, making us care for concrete or foam as much as for Mr. Darcy or the Artful Dodger...[Stuff Matters] puts the wonder and strangeness back into all the truly magical stuff that comprises our everyday reality." —Kirkus
"A fascinating introduction to materials science...Miodownik’s infectious curiosity and explanatory gifts will inspire readers to take a closer look at the materials around them." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Ever wonder how concrete is made? Why chocolate gets white spots when it heats up then cools down again? What makes diamond and graphite, two allotropes of carbon, behave so differently? Miodownik (materials and society, Univ. Coll. of London; Computational Materials Engineering) answers all of these questions and more through relating his personal experiences with each type of material. The author explores the worlds of the grandiose as he watches the construction of the Shard in London, Europe’s tallest building; and the miniscule, as he examines how small pores can lead to fractures in terra cotta, but similar fractures can be stopped in plaster (like that in a cast) by applying it over cloth. Miodownik introduces enough chemistry to explain, as his title suggests, the stuff that matters, but relates the science in such a way that the book should be accessible to all readers. VERDICT Recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about the materials that make up the world around them." —Library Journal, STARRED
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Nonetheless, can you imagine a life without them? – sleeping on hay or a lump of leaves; cooking with sharp rocks; eating with our own hands; living in a cave; and writing memo by engraving on a stone tablet in the absence of paper. This kind of life style is akin to that of our ancestors back in the Stone Age, approximately 1-2 million years ago. And that is precisely correct. Our lives without what we take for granted will be exactly like it. Many things around us, which we are absentmindedly taking for granted on a daily basis as I showed you, are the tangible results of the apotheosis of technology and science in the span of the entire human history. Our history, since the emergence of Homo sapiens, is inseparable to the history of materials. Indeed, the biggest milestones and that which separates distinct epochs in history, undoubtedly, are from the names of materials to have been utilized at each as shows in the three age system - Stone, Bronze, and Iron. They behaved differently, also, depending on what materials they were using at each time, as though their history was dictated by the very own material that they discovered and invented. The essence of which ought to have given you an aha moment.
The author has pointed this out in the first chapter which made me awe-struck. Whether or not you are a science geek, (Although, I don't consider myself a geek. But I have been on a science book reading streak of late. Maybe I am?) you will enjoy this book. This book is not very rarefied at all, written for common people, so much so that the author came up with a brilliant way to easily explain on the evolution of plastic, that is, by writing a screenplay, the main story of which evolves around the protagonist who invents plastic material. Not only is it fun to read, but also it is your responsibility as a modern person to know how the materials that shroud us came about. Only after you learn the struggle and inconvenience through which those who passed before us went without what we have now, are we called up to a true veneration for the things that sustain our modern life style.
That is, before stainless steel was invented, people tasted metal in their food from cutlery. Before the invention of amalgam which is the mixture of various metals, the dentists waited out a tooth to go completely rot only to pull out the tooth. Without plastic film, no way could it be possible that cameras were widely distributed and enjoyed by many in the early 20th century. There exist countless examples of such in the book. Don’t miss out the chapters on metal and chocolate which were my favorite.
The writing is highly entertaining, making me laugh and exclaim and wonder, but it is also highly educational, and it strikes a perfect balance (at least to my taste) , giving me excellent science without going into so much excruciating detail that my eyes glazed over.
I listened to the Audible version as I read the Kindle edition. The narrator has a British accent, which I sometimes find a little hard to understand, but he was very intelligible and did an excellent job of narrating; I felt the author was talking to me.
As a schoolboy in 1985, STUFF MATTERS author Mark Miodownik was stabbed while in the London Tube by an assailant wielding a razor blade. Later, seeing a razor’s edge glinting in the fluorescent lights of the local police station, Mark was launched into a life-defining raptness with the make-up of Stuff. He became a materials scientist.
In the eleven chapters of this book in the popular science genre, the author delves into the nature of steel, paper, concrete, chocolate, aerogel, nitrocellulose plastic, glass, carbon, ceramic, and engineered body part replacements – the lack of which would put Man back into the Stone Age.
Mark shares his vast knowledge in an engaging and informal style. The book includes several of his hand-sketched drawings such as he might produce on a cocktail napkin over a pint with you in a pub near his South Bank home in London. Only once does he try too hard; when his discussion of nitrocellulose is presented as a film screenplay. Perhaps he shouldn’t give up his day job just yet.
For me, the best thing about popular science presentations, including STUFF MATTERS, is that I learn cool facts that will stay with me. For instance, I always thought concrete dried. But it actually traps all the internal water as it cures, i.e. when the calcium silicate fibrils in the cement “crystalize.” And the author’s description of the classic way in which porcelain tea cups are produced was more fascinating than it seems it should be.
It’s all good stuff.