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Spiced with quotations from Primo Levi, Flann O'Brien, and Thomas Pynchon, Stories of the Invisible takes us on a tour of a world few of us knew existed. The author describes, for instance, the remarkable...
Spiced with quotations from Primo Levi, Flann O'Brien, and Thomas Pynchon, Stories of the Invisible takes us on a tour of a world few of us knew existed. The author describes, for instance, the remarkable molecular structure of spider's silk--a material that is pound for pound much stronger the steel--and shows how the Kevlar fibers in bulletproof vests were invented by imitating the alignment of molecules found in the spider's amazing thread. We also learn about the protein molecules that create movement, without which bacteria would be immobile, cells could not divide, there would be no reproduction and therefore no life. The book describes molecules shaped like miniature sculptures, containers, soccer balls, threads, rings, levers and geodesic domes, all made by sticking atoms together. Perhaps most important, Ball provides a fresh perspective on the future of molecular science, revealing how researchers are promising to reinvent chemistry as the central creative science of the 21st century. Indeed, molecular chemists will someday be able to manufacture a synthetic yet living cell and to create machines the size of bacteria, tools which they can then use to assemble new molecules to order.
Today we can invent molecules that can cure viral infections, store information, or help hold bridges together. In Stories of the Invisible, Philip Ball takes us inside an incredibly small world that has a major impact on our lives.
"In a society of chemical agnostics, it is a brave missionary who tries to reveal its mysteries, but that is what the author of Stories of the Invisible has attempted to do--and done remarkably well...Ball is the right person to write this gospel...At no point does Stories of the Invisible sacrifice sound science for sound bites--we are in the hands of a scholar and true believer."--John Emsley, Nature
"Pop-science enthusiasts will eat it up."--Publishers Weekly
"Ball's inspiring tour of this small world illustrates how molecules assemble and function and how that action influences myriad aspects of the macro world."--Science News
"Ball uses the same refreshing style evident in his previous books...to bring the world of chemistry to the lay reader."--Library Journal
"An intriguing, quick-reading introduction to chemistry's state of play."--Booklist
|List of figures|
|1||Engineers of the Invisible: Making Molecules||1|
|2||Vital Signs: The Molecules of Life||40|
|3||Take the Strain: Materials from Molecules||61|
|4||The Burning Issue: Molecules and Energy||85|
|5||Good Little Movers: Molecular Motors||114|
|6||Delivering the Message: Molecular Communication||138|
|7||The Chemical Computer: Molecular Information||162|