272 pages, b/w illustrations
Stuff Matters is a fantastically entertaining introduction to the strange inner life of materials by one of the The Times 100 most influential scientists in the UK and scientist in residence on Dara O Briain's Science Club.
Why is glass see-through? What makes elastic stretchy? How come concrete pours? Why does a paperclip bend? Why does any material look and behave the way it does? From the towering skyscrapers of our cities to the most ordinary objects in our homes, Stuff Matters tells enthralling stories that explain the science and history of materials we take entirely for granted, while introducing some of humankind's most ingenious and improbable inventions. From the tea-cup to the jet engine, the silicon chip to Stuff Matters clip, the plastic in our appliances to the elastic in our underpants, world-leading materials scientist Mark Miodownik reveals the miracles of engineering and ingenuity that permeate every aspect of our lives. Along the way, he introduces materials that can heal themselves, implants that become living bone, the explosive that made the movie business, materials that might one day save the world – and others that already have.
"Insightful, fascinating. The futuristic materials will elicit gasps. Makes even the most everyday substance seem exciting"
- Sunday Times
"Expert, deftly written, immensely enjoyable"
"Enthralling [...] a mission to re-acquaint us with the wonders of the fabric that sustains our lives"
"A certain sort of madness may be necessary to pull of what he has attempted here, which is a wholesale animation of the inanimate: Miodownik achieves precisely what he sets out to"
- The Times
"Wonderful. Miodownik writes well enough to make even concrete sparkle"
- Financial Times
"Utterly captivating. Every piece of 'stuff' we take for granted in our daily lives has a rich story to tell. A real delight"
- Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox
"The Master of Materials strikes again. Professor Miodownik has a gift for exciting us with his unique combination of the science and the sensuality of the stuff that the world around is made from"
- Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the Olympic Flame
"Written with such informed and infectious zeal [...] Stuff Matters doesn't just reveal the hidden and amazing structures behind much of what our world is made of, it tells the hidden and fascinating stories too"
- Quentin Cooper, BBC Radio 4
"Stuff Matters has reminded me that historians can spend too much time looking at what people have said and written, and not enough on the materials with which we have built modern society. I now understand why epochs in human history are defined by the stuff we have used"
- Dan Snow
"An ode to material science. Miodownik delves into the molecules and history of metal, paper, concrete and chocolate, finding poetry and beauty in the details. It's also about the ingenuity of humankind, the unique ability of humans to understand the materials around us, and to manipulate them"
- Alice Roberts
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Mark Miodownik recently appeared in The Times' inaugural list of the 100 most influential scientists in the UK. He is Professor of Materials and Society at UCL and presenter of several BBC television documentaries, including How it Works and The Genius of Invention, as well as appearing as scientist-in-residence on Dara O Briain's Science Club. In 2010, he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. He is Director of the UCL Institute of Making which is home to a materials library containing some of the most wondrous matter on earth, and has collaborated to make interactive events with many museums, such as Tate Modern, the Hayward Gallery and Wellcome Collection.