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on 21 August 2013
I bought this book after pausing to read a review in an old copy of the Guardian I was using to line the chicken coop. Essentially grounded in the Arts, I remain curious about the world around me; and I had heard the author talk about stainless steel cutlery on popular science programme on the radio. He struck me as a natural communicator, so I gave it a shot: all those other materials around me I took for granted such as paper, concrete, plastic and glass were revealed in a new light. I was enthused and encouraged to regard objects not so much as "blobs of differently coloured matter" as "complex expressions of human needs and desires."
Why don't I taste my spoon when I'm eating cornflakes? Can buildings heal themselves? What part did materials science play in the Paralympics? How could I ever again use newsprint for something other than its intended purpose without marvelling at its inner structure?
Why not try a sample and get hooked? You'll love it.
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on 26 April 2014
Mark Miodownik has written a highly entertaining and fascinating account of a subject that sounds like it ought to be really boring (my wife thought I was mad when I started to get really excited and insisted on reading her bits about the science of concrete). In Stuff Matters he explains why it is that a selection of materials (eg porcelain, steel, plastic, concrete, chocolate, glass) has the physical properties that it has and how it is that the science makes it so. He vividly portrays the importance of these various materials in the advancement of civilisation and how our daily lives would be hugely different without them. He has a very light style which makes the book really easy reading, including a self-deprecating manner when using anecdotes from his own life, which are invariably either amusing or touching. The result is a delight to read that has left me feeling I understand the world and science a little better than I did before. Highly recommended.
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on 25 February 2015
I heard The author do a podcast and was fascinated. So wanted to read his book and continued to be intrigued and fascinated about the stuff we take for granted. It is a challenging read. We bought our 11 year old grandson a microscope for his birthday. I decided to buy this book for him and his 12 year old brother I was so impressed with it. It did say that there would be words in it which they might not know so to have a dictionary close by when reading it. After all I also needed a dictionary at times. But it is not a bad fault to enlarge our vocabulary and broaden our minds challenging the reader to look at everything about them in a new way. The author's use of story telling and illustrations enhanced the reading experience. I enjoyed the book very much and am not an academic or a scientist it is a book for anyone with an enquiring mind.
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on 1 January 2015
Well written and concise, if a bit simplistic. Explains the fundamentals in a coherent fashion, but in such a book, no real depth of understanding is possible. Not really the purpose of the work but a good way to incentivise further reading on specific topics of interest
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on 2 June 2014
I have not enjoyed a book so much in a very long time. 'Stuff matters' is beautifully written, and a number of the shorter sections - on paper for example - remind me of Primo Levi's 'Periodic Table' (the essay on Titanium, for example). Greater praise than this cannot be given.

My interest in materials science was first stimulated by reading J E Gordon's 'The New Science of Strong Materials' many years ago. This too is a wonderful read, and 'Stuff Matters' has rekindled my enthusiasm.

I would have liked more about the use of ceramics in jet engines, and a mention of the manifest uses of Bucky balls in say, drug delivery ... which leads to my criticism of 'Stuff Matters ... it's much too short.

I look forward to Mark Miodownik's follow up book!
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on 21 September 2013
This book is a masterclass in taking a potentially extremely dry subject (molecular structure) and wrapping it in personal experience (blocked toilets, car crash) to present a narrative and make it interesting. It very nearly succeeds and would be worth 4.5 if I could give that but not quite a 5 as it does lapse at odd moments into the dry science which started to become repetitive.
I think a slight drawback - which is more personal than anything to do with the author - is that in one chapter the tale draws you into the hypnosis that resulted in a car crash. As I spend far too much of my life commuting on the M6 and recently saw such an accident it worked a bit like salt in the wound and spoilt my enjoyment.

A very good book and well written, cleverly done
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on 23 November 2014
This book has just won the Winston prize for popular science books, so it has obviously impressed many readers. Taking as a starting point a photograph of the author sat drinking on his rooftop balcony, each chapter deals with one of the materials in evidence (not quite in view as one is the item is the author's knee implant).

The author demonstrates how the molecular make-up of each material affects its properties and makes them useful to us, from the chocolate he is drinking to the cup that contains it and the concrete that surrounds him (and that was used to build the shard. The anecdotal approach he uses does succeed in making material science come to life. A recommended read
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on 5 August 2014
There is a scene in Clayhanger when the hero and his school friend pause on a bridge to overlook the Five Towns, and Arnold Bennett comments on their ignorance of the industry that underpins their lives. This rang bells with me as I was born in the Black Country, but my school taught me little or nothing about the industries where my father and uncles worked. This is a book for all those whose education was similarly lacking. It is a fascinating story told with clarity and humour. Read it and deepen your understanding of the science and technology that make our world, and appreciate the miracles that have made our life so comfortable and expanded it so much.
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on 30 December 2014
This is by far the most accessible science book I have read in a long while. Miodownik presents his
information in a reader friendly way, accentuating them with analogies from his own life, as well as
stories from other parts of the world. Every material described is given a living, breathing,
personality, and that, for me at least, really helps share Miodownik’s passion for the matter he is
describing. The book pulls in the reader, and while no former knowledge of the subject matter is
needed to understand what Miodownik writes, it is a pleasure to read even for those working on the
topics their whole lives.
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on 16 September 2014
Hugely Witty,informative,brilliant! I bought this after watching prof. Miodownik on the the BBC. He is gifted as a scientific/engineering/philosophical presenter and writer. Remarkable how he takes such everyday objects say paper or concrete and rightly imbues they with almost mystical magical properties. Golly this man can teach from a most lofty scientific pinanacle but make it truly accessible. I've recently retired after a long and wonderful career as an English teacher. Had I met a "Miodownik " 50 years ago I'm sure I'd be retired from teaching science! But then there are few like this fellow. Buy it!
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