Fragile Objects: Soft Matter, Hard Science, and the Thrill of Discovery
Over the past few decades we have learned a great deal about the behavior of such materials as liquid crystals, emulsions and colloids, polymers, and complex molecules. These materials, called "soft matter" ("matiA]re fragile" in French), have neither the rigid structure and crystalline symmetry of a solid nor the uniformity and disorder of a fluid or a gas. They have unusual and fascinating properties: some change their viscosity at our beck and call; others form layers of two-dimensional liquids; some are polarized, their molecules all oriented in the same direction and turning in unison at our command; others make up the foams, bubbles, waxes, gums, and many other items we take for granted every day. De Gennes, one of the world's leading experts on these strange forms of matter, here addresses topics ranging from soft-matter physics - the formation of rubber, the nature and uses of gum arabic, the wetting and de-wetting of surfaces, and the mysterious properties of bubbles and foams - to the activities of science: the role of individual or team work, the relation of discovery to correction, and the interplay of conscience and knowledge. In the best tradition of science writing, this book teaches us about both our world and ourselves.
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The tubeless siphon and the runaway boat
The Egyptian scribe arabic gum and Chinese ink
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applied Arabic gum atoms Auguste Comte bilayer bubbles called carbon black century chains chemical chemist Claude Allegre College de France colloid color developed dewetting direction disciplines drop electric energy engineers entrance examination example experiment experimental field Figure fluid foam force Franklin spirit French fundamental Georges Friedel grains high school hydrophilic hydrophobic industry Institute of Physics institutes of higher invented involved Jacques Friedel laboratory layer liquid crystals Lycée macromolecules material mathematics mechanics meters molecular nanometer nematic neutrons Newton nuclear observation optics particles periments phenomena phenomenon physicist Physics and Chemistry plastic polymers polyox possible problem properties questions result rubber scientific scientists smectic soap film soft matter solid structure superconductivity surface area surfactant teachers technique theoretician thermal agitation tion Translator's note turbulence turn Waals wetting young Yves Rocard zone