Matter is the raw material of the universe. Discover how the immense variety of matter - stars, mountains, plants, people - is generated by a limited number of chemical elements that combine in simple, well-defined ways. Consider carbon, a relatively common atom with many faces: diamond, which is the hardest known mineral; graphite, which is among the softest known substances; and carbon nanotubes, which are 300 times stronger than steel and have remarkable electrical properties.
In the 24 engaging lectures of The Nature of Matter, no scientific background is needed to appreciate such miracles of everyday life as a bouncing rubber ball or water's astonishing power to dissolve. Moreover, the study of matter has led directly to such inventions as semiconductor circuits for computers, new fabrics for clothes, and powerful adhesives for medicine and industry. These discoveries were hard won by scientific sleuths, but we can all sit back and enjoy the details - just as we delight in the solution to a good detective story. Since prehistoric times, knowledge of materials has driven the development of civilization. The Stone Age was succeeded by the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Industrial Age, and now the age of silicon - the element that is the basis of the semiconductor revolution.
Where will new methods and materials take us next? Professor Ball notes that the "fun part about being a chemist is that we still have lots of combinations of these raw materials to explore". Join this outstanding teacher and researcher on this exciting journey of discovery into the substance of everyday life.
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- Andreas Flint