One of the challenge points on the Better World Books 2017 Reading […]
Kenneth S. Deffeyes
Stephen E. Deffeyes
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The world is made up of structures too small to see with the naked eye, too small to see even with an electron microscope. Einstein established the realityof atoms and molecules in the early 1900s. How can we see a world measured infractions of nanometers? (Most atoms are less than one nanometer, less thanone-billionth of a meter, in diameter.) This beautiful and fascinating book gives usa tour of the invisible nanoscale world. It offers many vivid color illustrations ofatomic structures, each accompanied by a short, engagingly written essay. Thestructures advance from the simple (air, ice) to the complex (supercapacitator, rareearth magnet). Each subject was chosen not in search of comprehensiveness butbecause it illustrates how atomic structure creates a property (such as hardness, color, or toxicity), or because it has a great story, or simply because it isbeautiful. Thus we learn how diamonds ride volcanoes to the earth's surface (if theycame up more slowly, they'd be graphite, as in pencils); what form of carbon isnamed after Buckminster Fuller; who won in the x-ray vs. mineralogy professorsmackdown; how a fuel cell works; when we use spinodal decomposition in our dailylives (it involves hot water and a package of Jell-O), and much more. The amazingcolor illustrations by Stephen Deffeyes are based on data from x-ray diffraction (amethod used in crystallography). They are not just pretty pictures butvisualizations of scientific data derived directly from those data. Together withKenneth Deffeyes's witty commentary, they offer a vivid demonstration of thediversity and beauty found at the nanometer scale.
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