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The Material World

Popular Science

By: Rodney Cotterill

593 pages, 303 col figs

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Sep 2008 | Edition: 2 | #161638 | ISBN-13: 9780521451475
Availability uncertain: order now to get this when available Details
NHBS Price: £50.99 $66 / €58 approx

About this book

Using the cosmos as a backdrop, Rodney Cotterill delivers a fascinating journey of Nature's materials, from the atom to the living organism. This is a beautifully illustrated, expanded account of the highly praised Cambridge Guide to the Material World.

The author seamlessly blends the physics, chemistry and biology of Nature, portraying matter with all its elegance and flaws. Although the book is divided into material types, the author connects concepts and pinpoints commonalities between the inorganic and organic domains. It challenges the reader to question our structured view of the world and whether this limits our scientific endeavour, aptly demonstrated by the new chapter devoted exclusively to the mind.

Through the breadth of topics and engaging prose, this book will act as a superb introduction to material science for students and those intrigued by the material world we live in.

From reviews of the previous edition: 'This is a grand tour of the sciences. Beautifully written, with a fine poetic turn of phrase, it will be an outstanding source of reference for high school, college and university students, and should find a market among science teachers, science buffs, and young scientists who might be encouraged to range farther afield during their own research careers.' Graeme O'Neill, The Canberra Times 'An instant classic.' Robert Cahn FRS, Contemporary Physics 'Will it not soon be impossible for one person to grasp the breadth of the topics we call science? Not yet. After several delightful hours with Rodney Cotterill's The Material World, I can confirm that at least one polymath survives.' Peter Goodhew, The Times Educational Supplement 'In undertaking to give an account of matter in all its aspects, from the individual atom to the living organism, Rodney Cotterill has done what very few would dare. This is a book that should be in every university science department, every technological firm and every sixth-form college. Let me commend a magnificent achievement.' Sir Brian Pippard FRS, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 'The beautifully produced The Material World by Rodney Cotterill should allow teachers and students alike to move away from the narrow traditional education patterns and adopt a broader, more thoughtful approach to science education.' Sir Tom Blundell FRS, New Scientist 'The unity at depth between physics and chemistry, between crystal defects and restriction enzymes, has never been served so well in a popular and visually engaging book.' Philip Morrison, Scientific American 'A godsend to anyone who knows little or no physics, chemistry or biology but would like a picture of the world at the microscopic and atomic levels.' Carol Rasmussen, New York Library Journal


Prologue; 1. Solo atoms: electrons, nuclei and quanta; 2. Atomic duets: the chemical bond; 3. Atoms in concert: states of matter; 4. Patterns within patterns: perfect crystals; 5. The inevitable flaw: imperfect crystals; 6. The great mediator: water; 7. From mine, quarry and well: minerals; 8. Almost forever: ceramics; 9. Monarchs of the cave: metals; 10. The busy electron: conductors and insulators; 11. A mysterious harmony: glass; 12. The organic world: carbon; 13. Strangeness in proportion: liquid crystals; 14. Of snakes and ladders: Polymers; 15. The vital threads: Biopolymers; 16. The essential bag: the cell; 17. Mortal coils: the organism; 18. A place in the sun: the plant; 19. Mandatory hunter: the animal; 20. Enchanted loom: the mind.

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