Excerpt of the Day: How the Materials We Invent Shape Our Lives

As part of my Excerpt of the Day series, here’s an interesting quote from Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik.

Stuff Matters Book Cover“The material world is not just a display of our technology and culture, it is part of us. We invented it, we made it, and in turn it makes us who we are…

The twentieth century is often hailed as the Age of Silicon, after the breakthrough in materials science that ushered in the silicon chip and the information revolution. Yet this is to overlook the kaleidoscope of other new materials that also revolutionized modern living at that time. Architects took mass-produced sheet glass and combined it with structural steel to produce skyscrapers that invented a new type of city life. Product and fashion designers adopted plastics and transformed our homes and dress. Polymers were used to produce celluloid and ushered in the biggest change in visual culture for a thousand years: the cinema. The development of aluminum alloys and nickel superalloys enabled us to build jet engines and fly cheaply, thus accelerating the collision of cultures. Medical and dental ceramics allowed us to rebuild ourselves and redefine disability and aging—and, as the term plastic surgery implies, materials are often the key to new treatments used to repair our faculties (hip replacements) or enhance our features (silicone implants for breast enlargement).”

You can find the full book here on Amazon.


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