The Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon
The story of human civilization can be read most deeply in the materials we have found or created, used or abused. They have dictated how we build, eat, communicate, wage war, create art, travel, and worship. Some, such as stone, iron, and bronze, lend their names to the ages. Others, such as gold, silver, and diamond, contributed to the rise and fall of great empires. How would history have unfolded without glass, paper, steel, cement, or gunpowder?
The impulse to master the properties of our material world and to invent new substances has remained unchanged from the dawn of time; it has guided and shaped the course of history. Sass shows us how substances and civilizations have evolved together. In antiquity, iron was considered more precious than gold. The celluloid used in movie film had its origins in the search for a substitute for ivory billiard balls. The same clay used in the pottery of antiquity has its uses in today’s computer chips.
Moving from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon, from the days of prehistoric survival to the cutting edge of nanotechnology, this fascinating and accessible book connects the worlds of minerals and molecules to the sweep of human history, and shows what materials will dominate the century ahead.
What people are saying - Write a review
THE SUBSTANCE OF CIVILIZATION: Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of SiliconUser Review - Kirkus
Remember when you learned about the Stone Age, followed by Bronze and Iron? Well, it didn't exactly stop there, and Sass, a Cornell materials-science professor, is our guide to all the successive ... Read full review
Other editions - View all
aircraft alloys aluminum archaeologists artisans atomic structure Bessemer bitumen bonds brittle bronze building called carbon carbon atoms cast iron Çatal Hüyük cellulose cellulose nitrate century B.C.E. ceramic charcoal chemical chip clay coal Common Common Era composite containing cooled copper crack crystal cupellation cylinder developed diamond discovered dislocations early East eighteenth century electrical electrons Europe fabricated fashioned fibers furnaces glass glassworkers gold and silver graphite Greek gunpowder heating high temperatures human industry innovations ions Kevlar king layer lead liquid load martensite melting point Mesopotamia metal millennium B.C.E. minerals mines molecules molten needed nineteenth century nitrate oxide oxygen oxygen atoms particles percent piston plastic deformation platinum polyethylene polymer pounds produced properties reacts role Roman rubber shape silica silicon smelters smelting sodium steam engine steel stone strength substances sulfur Sumer Sumerian tetrahedra thin thousand tons transformed transistors weight weight-percent wood yield stress Young's modulus