Liquid Rules: The Delightful and Dangerous Substances That Flow Through Our Lives (Hardcover)
Sometimes explosive, often delicious, occasionally poisonous, but always interesting: the New York Times-bestselling author of Stuff Matters shows us the secret lives of liquids: the shadow counterpart of our solid “stuff.”
We all know that without water we couldn’t survive, and that sometimes a cup of coffee or a glass of wine feels just as vital. But do we really understand how much we rely on liquids, or the destructive power they hold?
Set over the course of a flight from London to San Francisco, Liquid Rules offers readers a fascinating tour of these formless substances, told through the language of molecules, droplets, heartbeats, and ocean waves. Throughout the trip, we encounter fluids within the plane—from a seemingly ordinary cup of tea to a liquid crystal display screen—and without, in the volcanoes of Iceland, the frozen expanse of Greenland, and the marvelous California coastline. We come to see liquids as substances of 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 and their mysterious properties to life in a captivating new way.
Finalist for the Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize
“Liquid Rules is an entertaining discussion of the various ways our lives are enriched by fluids. From the physics of ballpoint pens to the origin of jet-aircraft contrails, the book rewards the reader with fascinating facts and insights. Every day, millions of people travel on an airplane. Fortunately, Mark Miodownik was recently one of them.”
—Wall Street Journal
"Written in a conversational tone, with all of the charm that genuine enthusiasm for the subject brings...[Miodownik] draws on his experience as an engineer and materials scientist and his skills as a science writer to make complex concepts accessible and, better still, intuitive...Liquid Rules is both entertaining and informative, which makes it a useful tool in the fight to promote scientific literacy. At a time when technology, science, and public policy are often at odds, Miodownik adds to our understanding of the physical world with humor and sound science."
"Miodownik combines history and cutting-edge research to describe the various forms and uses of liquids, from the history of liquid fuels and ink to the art and science behind brewing a great cup of coffee or tea. Liquid Rules is filled with trivia both delightful and gross, because the liquids in our lives can be delightful or gross (or anything in between)...Accessible and entertaining."
“Mark Miodownik is the science communicator’s science communicator . . . Once again, he has written a book much like the substances it describes: exciting, anarchic and surprising. Like the sea, it covers a lot of ground. And like a perfectly made cup of tea, it is warm, comforting and very refreshing.”
“It's probably fair to say that most people don't find materials science an inherently exciting topic. But this opinion is nearly impossible to hold after reading anything written by Mark Miodownik. In Stuff Matters, Miodownik revealed that materials as apparently humdrum as concrete are actually amazing. In Liquid Rules, Miodownik yet again makes the seemingly mundane awe-inspiring. I'll never look at a ballpoint pen the same way again.”
—Kelly and Zach Weinersmith, New York Times-bestselling authors of Soonish
“Mark Miodownik flies high again in Liquid Rules. It’s a treat to see the world through his eyes as he flows from topic to topic, and under his gaze even the most mundane things—ballpoint pens, ketchup bottles, a cup of tea—sizzle with significance.”
—Sam Kean, New York Times-bestselling author of The Disappearing Spoon and Caesar’s Last Breath
“A witty, engaging, and deeply knowledgeable look at our nonsolid world. By taking a transatlantic flight with Miodownik, you’ll be amazed by what you learn.”
—Jon Gertner, New York Times-bestselling author of The Idea Factory and The Ice at the End of the World
“This book delivers exactly what it promises . . . A splendid soup of liquid-related science . . . It's a treat. I lost count of the number of ‘but why?’ questions it answers . . . This is a winning and hugely readable book.”
“A sparkling exposition of materials in science and engineering . . . Lively.”
"Miodownik writes with such knowledge, such enthusiasm, such a palpable love for his subject.”
—Oliver Sacks, on Stuff Matters
“I’m pleased to report that he is a witty, smart writer who has a great talent for imparting his love of this subject.”
—Bill Gates, on Stuff Matters
“Miodownik writes an engaging companionto his previous book, Stuff Matters, painting a picture of our relationship with liquids ('a form of matter in which molecules swim around') via a narrative cleverly structured around a transatlantic flight...Funny as well as instructive . . . This imminently readable book straddles both science and social science and should be enjoyable to readers of high school age through adult."
“[Miodownik] follows up his prizewinning debut with an equally focused tour of liquids . . . the author's enthusiasm and wry humor even make these relatively banal substances entertaining...cleverly told and engagingly accessible study of the stuff around us.”
“Informative, casual narrative . . . 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.”