Liquid: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives Hardcover – 6 Sept. 2018
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It's a little known fact that liquids are the coolest state of matter. And if anyone can spread that message all around him, it's Mark Miodownik. From ink to saliva, coffee to soap, this is an exhilarating, eye-opening ride. (Philip Ball, science writer and author of H2O: A Biography of Water)
A brilliantly navigated journey through the scientific marvels of the fluid world, from coffee to kerosene, from tea to tar, from honey to hydrophobia, from peanut butter to perfluorocarbons. A thrilling read, from start to finish (Tim Radford, author of The Consolations of Physics: Why the Wonders of the Universe Can Make You Happy)
Miodownik is a materials scientist, but really he is an alchemist; he transforms knowledge of everyday stuff into literary gold. His book on liquids oozes brilliance on every page (Alex Bellos, author of Alex Through the Looking Glass)
This book delivers exactly what it promises . . . It's a treat. I lost count of the number of "but why?" questions it answers . . . This is a winning and hugely readable book (James McConnachie The Sunday Times)
Once again, Miodownik has written a book much like the substances it describes: exciting, anarchic and surprising. Like the sea, it covers a lot of ground. And like a perfectly made cup of tea, it is warm, comforting and very refreshing (Katy Guest The Guardian)
Miodownik yet again makes the seemingly mundane awe-inspiring. I'll never look at a ballpoint pen the same way again (Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, New York Times-bestselling authors of Soonish)
Mark Miodownik flies high again in Liquid. It's a treat to see the world through his eyes as he flows from topic to topic, and under his gaze even the most mundane things-ballpoint pens, ketchup bottles, a cup of tea-sizzle with significance (Sam Kean, New York Times-bestselling author of The Disappearing Spoon and Caesar’s Last Breath)
Miodownik's appeal comes not only from his ability to explain the complexities of science and engineering but also from his acute social observations . . . original and entertaining (Clive Cookson Financial Times)
Miodownik uses a routine transatlantic flight from London to San Francisco - and the liquids that he encounters on the way - as a vehicle for a sparkling exposition of materials in science and engineering. His lively analysis takes in kerosene fuel, wines from the drinks trolley, glues holding the aircraft together, the entertainment system's liquid crystal display, clouds outside the cabin, and much more besides.) (FT Books of the Year 2018)
From the Inside Flap
By the author of the prize-winning Stuff Matters
A series of glasses of transparent liquids is in front of you: but which will quench your thirst and which will kill you? And why? Why does one make us drunk, and another power a jumbo jet?
This fascinating new book by the bestselling scientist and engineer Mark Miodownik is an expert tour of the world of the droplets, heartbeats and ocean waves that we come across every day. Structured around a plane journey which sees encounters with substances from water and glue to coffee and wine, he shows how these liquids can bring death and destruction as well as wonder and fascination.
From László Bíró's revolutionary pen and Abraham Gesner's kerosene to cutting-edge research on self-repairing roads and liquid computers, Miodownik uses his winning formula of scientific storytelling to bring the everyday to life. He reveals why liquids can flow up a tree but down a hill, why oil is sticky, how waves can travel so far, and how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Here are the secret lives of substances that we rely on but rarely understand.
From the Publisher
The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives
Mark Miodownik is Professor of Materials and Society at University College London, where he is also Director of the Institute of Making. He was chosen by The Times as one of the 100 most influential scientists in the UK and his latest book, LIQUID will be out in hardback 6th September.
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In this one, however, there isn't.
If you're more interested in Mark than the science he's "popularizing" then by all means get the book. Otherwise don't waste your money.
This book is a wander through the different liquids he comes across on a mythical plane trip, coffee, liquid crystal, kerosene, liquid soap, ballpoint pen (biro) et.c. I saw this in the Royal Institution reading list and thought I'd give it a go (I read it on a plane and actually burst out laughing when reading the bit on kerosene) it was a couple of hours of reading, quite entertaining.
My only gripe was I felt the "story" was tailing off at the last few chapters of the book and it felt a bit grating. I prefered his previous book "Stuff Matters: The Strange Stories of the Marvellous Materials that Shape Our Man-made World" (another RI recommendation) read better.
I was very interested in the production of sodium laureth sulphate and its use in nearly all hand/face cleansers and where it comes from - palm oil - and the destruction of the rain forests in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil.
Full of fascinating facts, it's an easy read that's not too heavy on the science but is full of wonder about the world.
Crammed full of fascinating facts, including why airplane tea tastes nothing like tea, woven into the author's musings during a transatlantic plane journey, this book puts the popular into science.
Top international reviews
He closes with a final irony (not noticed); he and his neighbor on the plane were both going to the same sustainable development conference in San Francisco. For two people (among many others) to fly 12 hours each way on an airplane for a one or two day conference doesn't seem very sustainable to me.