Academic journal article et Cetera

Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of

Academic journal article et Cetera

Stuff: The Materials the World Is Made Of

Article excerpt

Ivan Amato. Stuff. The Materials the World is Made of. New York: Basic, 1997.

Each year 15 billion tons of raw materials are transformed by the efforts of material scientists into useful "stuff." Sand becomes silicon becomes microelectric chips. Drilled petroleum becomes chemical feedstock becomes synthetic rubber becomes car tires, etc. This compelling book gives information and insights into how these things happen.

Ivan Amato, journalist and freelance science writer, begins his story about 2.5 million years ago, when hominid progenitors in the East Rift Valley of Africa first hit one stone against another to produce a sharp cutting edge, thereby turning raw stone into a more useful and empowering form. Humanity remained trapped in the Stone Age because we did not have the scientific knowledge to smelt iron from rocky ores. The Industrial Revolution was largely brought about because inventors figured out how to make great amounts of steel. Also at that time John Wesley Hyatt, a printer and mechanic, gave us the first commercially successful plastic -- celluloid. (He was trying to find a substitute for billiard ball ivory, which was coming into short supply.)

These days the key to technological progress depends on the ability of material scientists to take apart and transfigure the physical stuff of nature into more desired materials. …

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