Children's LiteratureThe author takes readers on a technical, but interesting, exploration of the materials that make our twenty-first century gadgetry possible. Before we can make technological advances, the author states, we must first redesign naturally occurring materials and transform them into man-made materials that can withstand ever-increasing stresses and rigors. How scientists make these transformations is by altering the materials' microstructure. A brief overview of elemental chemistry is presented and readers are invited to explore the microstructures of plastics, metals, ceramics and future materials. Pictures, diagrams, graphics and photographs add visual explanations and appeal. The reading isn't easy, but the topic is intriguing; and the author is clearly an expert and a fan. Readers with the appropriate science background will connect with the scientific explanations; those who enjoy looking at the world from new and future perspectives will find rewarding reading here, too. 2001, Twenty-First Century Books/The Millbrook Press, $25.90. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Judy Katsh
School Library JournalGr 9 Up-Designed for students interested in learning more about the field of material science and engineering, this book attempts to explain and define many complex structures, terms, developments, and uses of chemical substances. After a helpful chapter covering basic chemistry, Bortz focuses on various materials used within this science. Topics begin with electricity and the function of conductors and semiconductors, silicon, and transistors. Explanations of the binary system used in computers, and types of polymers and their structures follow. Beginning in the Stone Age, technical developments are traced through stone, clay, fire, bronze, glass, etc., placing scientific developments into proper relationship with current developments in the field. The concluding chapter looks at the role material science and engineering will play in medicine in the future as well as the further development of biomimetics-mimicking life's processes. Definitions of unfamiliar terms and explanations of differences in structures appear within the text, in an attempt to help explain this extremely complex subject. Chapters progress somewhat sequentially in an effort to divide information into understandable parts with numerous sidebars, pictures, and diagrams providing further explanation. This is one of the few books written for young adults covering this technical field. This is a very complicated topic, however, and even though the book is well done, it will likely have a limited audience.-Susan Shaver, Hemingford Public Schools, NE Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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