Sometimes explosive, often delicious, occasionally poisonous, but always interesting: the New York Times best-selling author of Stuff Matters show us the secret lives of liquids: the shadow counterpart of our solid “stuff.”
We know that we need water to survive, and that a cup of coffee or a glass of wine can feel just as vital. But do we understand how much we rely on liquids, or their destructive power?
Set on a transatlantic flight, Liquid Rules offers readers a tour of these formless substances, told through the language of molecules, droplets, heartbeats, and ocean waves. We encounter fluids within the plane—from hand soap to liquid crystal display screens—and without: in the volcanoes of Iceland, the frozen expanse of Greenland, and the marvelous California coastline. We come to see liquids with wonder and fascination, and to understand their potential for death and destruction. Just as in Stuff Matters, Mark Miodownik’s unique brand of scientific storytelling brings liquids to life in a captivating new way.
In this informative, casual narrative, Miodownik (Stuff Matters), a science professor at University College London, gives a guided tour of the strange, wondrous liquids that flow through everyday life. He compresses myriad science lessons into one transatlantic flight on the theory that "there is no better way to illustrate the power and delight we gain from controlling liquids than by taking a look at those involved in the flight of an airplane and the experience of the passengers onboard." From beverage cart and lavatory to sky and tarmac, he finds stories waiting in every conceivable corner. Tea, for instance, started its existence as an assortment of "shoots on a seemingly unremarkable evergreen shrub" which modern-day humans' ancestors didn't notice for millennia. Wine is a vessel for the "dissolved ethanol you're about to consume." Overhead air conditioning exists thanks to "some of the most dangerous liquids on the planet." Even the humble ink needed to fill out a customs form is a marvel, because flowing and solidifying in the right order, and consistently and fast, "is much trickier than it looks." This popular science work straightforwardly and clearly explains "the mysterious properties of liquids and how we have come to rely on them" in a novel, engaging manner.
It has been in my library for quite sometime. Delightful, light-reading book, I enjoyed it.