Review of ‘Stuff Matters’ by Mark Miodownik

I’m always wondering what things are made of, so this is exactly my kind of book. It’s guaranteed to make you look at everything in a new way.

Materials scientist Mark Miodownik begins the book by talking about when he got stabbed with a razor on the tube. This was the unlikely catalyst for his interest in how materials work. Every chapter begins with the same photo of him on his roof, in view of the Shard in London, enjoying refreshments while he appears to be puzzling out a problem. In interesting ways, he explains the manufacture and properties of the man-made materials that can be seen in the photo, such as chocolate, paper, carbon, foam, concrete and glass.

I can’t pretend to have fully understood the bits about the atoms (unfortunately I don’t have the right kind of brain for this) but I liked his hand-sketched diagrams. I learnt a lot of fascinating things about the stuff we all take for granted. It was also quite amusing and somewhat eccentric. The content is slightly out of date already (inevitable, considering the pace of technological development), most obviously in the discussion of paper banknotes.

First published in 2013 by Penguin.

16 thoughts on “Review of ‘Stuff Matters’ by Mark Miodownik”

    1. It’s all super interesting stuff but I could never get my head around how it all works. That must be why I’m not a scientist πŸ˜€

    1. Glad you liked the review πŸ™‚ I have to admit I’d not even heard of the author before I found the book, although it’s possible I might have watched something presented by him and not realised. I will be sure to check out his videos.

    1. It is! I would recommend if you’re interested in what things are made of πŸ˜€

    1. I wish I had a scientific brain, oh well. I do like ‘popular science’ books though. Thanks πŸ™‚

  1. This sounds fascinating! I actually had a class on this but we only talked about materials most used in architecture… it would have been a very long class otherwise. I will be looking for it in the online libraries.

    1. It really is fascinating πŸ™‚ It does include a little on architecture, for the chapters on steel and concrete. I found the book on Amazon by chance, I hadn’t heard of it before.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ It’s absolutely the kind of non fiction I like to read. Anything about contemporary science unfortunately is going to be out of date soon.

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