The Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon / Edition 1

The Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon / Edition 1

by Stephen L. Sass
     
 

Stephen L. Sass's The Substance of Civilization shows that 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 ages. Others, such as gold, silver, and… See more details below

Overview

Stephen L. Sass's The Substance of Civilization shows that 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 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? Sass shows us how substances and civilization have evolved together. In antiquity, iron was considered more precious than gold. Spanish miners in the New World thought platinum, which is more rare than silver, a useless nuisance. The celluloid used in movie film had its origins in the search for a substitute for ivory billiard balls. The discovery ages ago that clay could be fired to make pots was revolutionary; so was the more recent discovery that clay also contains the substance that runs our computers.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781559703710
Publisher:
Arcade Publishing
Publication date:
02/02/1998
Edition description:
1 ED
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen L. Sass is a professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University, where he has won a number of teaching awards. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction1
1The Ages of Stone and Clay13
2The Age of Metals: A Primer38
3Copper and Bronze49
4Gold, Silver, and the Rise of Empires68
5The Age of Iron82
6A Quick History of Glass98
7Building for the Ages124
8Innovations from the East134
9Stoking the Furnace of Capitalism147
10The Birth of Modern Metals176
11Steel: Master of Them All203
12Exploding Billiard Balls and Other Polymers215
13Diamond: The Superlative Substance238
14Composites: The Lesson of Nature250
15The Age of Silicon265
Epilogue: Materials in the Twenty-First Century277
Notes283
Bibliography288

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