Easily read from cover to cover, this is a fascinating book about the materials that make up our everyday synthetic world. The author, Mark Miodownik, is a professor of materials and society at the University of College, London and really knows his stuff–literally!
From concrete to chocolate to celluloid, Miodownik thoroughly explains each of his chosen materials down to its molecular structure. This sounds like it could get boring, but the author deftly staves off tedium by interspersing the science with historical context and personal anecdotes. In fact, I was hooked by the very first sentence of the introduction: “As I stood on a train bleeding from what would later be classified as a thirteen-centimeter stab wound, I wondered what to do.”
When was the last time you read a science book that started like that? Miodownik has a way with prose that makes this nonfiction book not just readable but also entertaining.
Of course, the real pleasure of reading this book is the knowledge I gained. I learned that concrete doesn’t dry, stainless steel was discovered by accident, and celluloid was invented because ivory billiard balls were too expensive.
It’s a wonderful world we live in, and Miodownik’s book makes that abundantly clear.