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From plastics to smart materials to never-before-seen composites, scientists have transformed the raw materials of the wilderness into the stuff of the modern world. Now, award-winning journalist Ivan Amato explores this fascinating science.Prehistory was stuck in the Stone Age partly because it lacked the scientific know-how to smelt iron from rocky ores. The Industrial Revolution owed its birth to the geniuses who figured out how to make large amounts of steel. Postwar America can thank or hang in effigy John Wesley Hyatt, who gave us plastics. And twenty-first-century America may well rise, or fall, depending on how far ahead it remains in the development of smart materials. The most important factor in technological progress today is the ability of the materials scientist to take apart and reconfigure the physical stuff of the world into substances that have never existed naturally on Earth.Much more than a history of the material sciences, Stuff brims with interviews with cutting-edge experts in the field, many of whom are building new materials literally atom by atom, and describes such astounding achievements as artificial diamonds created from peanut butter and how nanotechnologists are building new-age, state-of-the-art machines no thicker than a few hundred atoms. Compelling and informative, it gives readers a marvelous glimpse into the modern world of technology and the smart materials that are at the forefront of tomorrow's breakthroughs in computers, military weaponry, electronics, and more.
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