An eye-opening adventure deep inside the everyday materials that surround us, packed with surprising stories and fascinating science
Why 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.
From the teacup to the jet engine, the silicon chip to the paper clip, the plastic in our appliances to the elastic in our underpants, our lives are overflowing with materials. 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.
“[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”
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
“Stuff Matters makes the seemingly banal objects of our everyday lives into an endless source of wonder, dreams and possibility.” —Salon