Check Out – Check In – November 2014

Disclaimer: These books were reviewed by a Robson resident and may or may not be available at your local library.

Please check with your local branch library for availability.

Janet Mills

Stuff Matters – Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Share Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik.

Steel was the first metal that Miodownik discusses. For thousands of years, the making of steel was handed down as a craft. During the Stone Age metal was highly prized and copper and gold were the only two metals. When iron and steel were achieved this was the making of the Industrial Revolution.

Paper was the second word he discussed. The invention of paper was said to be one of the great inventions of the Chinese. The Bible is one of the first books to actually be bound together. It was genius that made a book with heavier paper enclosing the words. Concrete was the next word he talked about. It is made from powdered rock, calcium carbonate, mainly limestone. You also need silicate, a compound of silicon and oxygen. It is amazing how they all bond together to make such a hard concrete. The next thing is chocolate. It is formed originally from the cocoa tree fruit that grows large fruit that are pulled off the short tree that grows under palms and left to rot. When the fruit is rotted then dead it can be harvested from the fruit and many grow in each separate fruit. The beans are dried and roasted which turns each bean into a mini-chemical factory. Foam is the next story he writes about; the foam in shoes. The next was glass and the discussion was heating up; molecules are melted and become liquid. By adding born oxide to the mix you can turn glass into Pyrex. The next article that Miodownik discusses is graphite which comes from carbon. It is a light atom with six protons and usually six neutrons; but if a third carbon from the neutrons is unstable, the element falls apart. The biggest diamond yet discovered is in the Milky Way. I found this book fascinating because we use these same materials many times in a day and never think of how they are put together.