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By the author of the prize-winning Stuff Matters.
A series of glasses of transparent liquids is in front of you: but which will quench your thirst and which will kill you? And why? Why does one make us drunk, and another power a jumbo jet?
This fascinating new book by the bestselling scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik is an expert tour of the world of the droplets, heartbeats and ocean waves that we come across every day. Structured around a plane journey which sees encounters with substances from water and glue to coffee and wine, he shows how these liquids can bring death and destruction as well as wonder and fascination.
From László Bíró's revolutionary pen and Abraham Gesner's kerosene to cutting-edge research on self-repairing roads and liquid computers, Miodownik uses his winning formula of scientific storytelling to bring the everyday to life. He reveals why liquids can flow up a tree but down a hill, why oil is sticky, how waves can travel so far, and how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Here are the secret lives of substances that we rely on but rarely understand.
A Financial Times Master of Science and chosen by The Times as one of the 100 most influential scientists in the UK, Mark Miodownik is Professor of Materials and Society at University College London, where he is also Director of the Institute of Making. He is the author of the NYT bestselling Stuff Matters and presents BBC TV programmes on science and engineering. He writes regularly for the Guardian and Observer.
"A witty, smart writer who has a great talent"
– Bill Gates
"Miodownik packs this delightful book with so much 'well, I never knew that' information. Not only does he know his stuff but, just as importantly, he knows how to tell a good story. A truly delightful read"
– Jim Al-Khalili, author of Paradox
"It's a little known fact that liquids are the coolest state of matter. And if anyone can spread that message all around him, it's Mark Miodownik. From ink to saliva, coffee to soap, this is an exhilarating, eye-opening ride."
– Philip Ball, science writer and author of H2O: A Biography of Water
"A brilliantly navigated journey through the scientific marvels of the fluid world, from coffee to kerosene, from tea to tar, from honey to hydrophobia, from peanut butter to perfluorocarbons. A thrilling read, from start to finish"
– Tim Radford, author of The Consolations of Physics: Why the Wonders of the Universe Can Make You Happy
"Miodownik is a materials scientist, but really he is an alchemist; he transforms knowledge of everyday stuff into literary gold. His book on liquids oozes brilliance on every page"
– Alex Bellos, author of Alex Through the Looking Glass
"This book delivers exactly what it promises [...] It's a treat. I lost count of the number of "but why?" questions it answers [...] This is a winning and hugely readable book"
– James McConnachie, The Sunday Times
"Once again, Miodownik has written a book much like the substances it describes: exciting, anarchic and surprising. Like the sea, it covers a lot of ground. And like a perfectly made cup of tea, it is warm, comforting and very refreshing"
– Katy Guest, The Guardian
"Miodownik yet again makes the seemingly mundane awe-inspiring. I'll never look at a ballpoint pen the same way again"
– Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, New York Times-bestselling authors of Soonish
"Mark Miodownik flies high again in Liquid. It's a treat to see the world through his eyes as he flows from topic to topic, and under his gaze even the most mundane things-ballpoint pens, ketchup bottles, a cup of tea-sizzle with significance"
– Sam Kean, New York Times-bestselling author of The Disappearing Spoon and Caesar's Last Breath