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Soft Matter: The stuff that dreams are made of (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 11. April 2011

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From the reviews:

“Roberto Piazza provides one of the first books that aim to introduce the topic to the general reader. It is well written, with a playful Italian style, featuring cultured digressions and interesting footnotes. … audience for this enjoyable book will be the famous ‘general reader’, most likely in actuality to be the interested specialist, working in this or closely related fields. … It could be used as an introductory textbook … . Overall, this book is very informative and written with considerable flair and enthusiasm.” (Ian Hamley, Chemistry World, June, 2011)

“Soft Matter offers excellent general reading for anyone interested in colloid and surfactant science or biopolymers. Piazza (condensed matter physics, Politecnico di Milano, Italy) introduces these scientific areas and relevant concepts and ideas by incorporating numerous examples from ‘everyday life.’ … the book provides more-detailed explanations for the scientific terms used in the text. Overall, an interesting, clearly written, lighthearted approach to an important research field in physics. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels.” (H. Giesche, Choice, Vol. 49 (1), September, 2011)

“The book strikes the right balance between historical context and scientific content, and it should appeal to PHYSICS TODAY readers. … The book’s glossary alone is a valuable resource that many students entering the field will likely turn to while taking courses and after incomprehensible seminar. I am certainly going to make this excellent book part of the required reading for all students taking my introductory class on the subject.” (Daniel Blair, Physics Today, December, 2011)

“Roberto Piazza wrote a beautiful book on soft matter. … The overall style of the book is very clear, peppered with interesting anecdotes, historical vignettes … which make its reading a delight. … Piazza’s book is excellent, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to an interested lay audience as well as to physics students, or natural scientists in general, who are about to embark on a more detailed course on soft matter and biophysics. … a fascinating read even for a working scientist … .” (R. Podgornik, Journal of Biological Physics, March, 2012)

“While I was familiar with some of the more common concepts, the author really provided some very good original explanations. In contrast to some other popular science books which simply tell you the conclusions, this books actually explains enough that I felt like I understood where in general the conclusions came from. I liked the way the author could capture key concepts in succinct and memorable phrases.” (Amazon, March, 2012)


‘Soft matter may, as Roberto Piazza puts it, be the stuff of dreams, but it is also the stuff of life. That is what makes this book so engaging – because it shows the ingenuity that both nature and humankind have invested in the bendy, stretchy, fragile, tough and adaptable substances we find all around us. There is plenty of hard science in this soft matter, and Piazza offers an urbane and eloquent tour through it.’
Philip Ball, multi-award winning science writer.

This book takes you for a leisurely walk through the ‘middle earth’ that scientists call soft matter -- much smaller than what we observe with the naked eye, but not as remote as the esoteric realm of molecules, atoms and fundamental particles. From toys to trainers, our civilization would be very different if we did not have plastic. From milk to paint, what would we do without colloids? We ourselves fall into the category of soft matter, made as we are of a molecular origami of proteins, DNA and other biological compounds. This fascinating exploration reveals what these materials have in common and which aspects of their behavior make them useful in our everyday life.  Understanding more about their physical properties will make you marvel at the ‘soft’ things that surround us.

With a Foreword by Professor Henk Lekkerkerker, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Roberto Piazza trained as a physicist at the school of Vittorio Degiorgio, and is now a professor of Condensed Matter Physics at the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, Associate Editor of the European Physical Journal E and coordinator of the European Space Agency's Topical Team for "Applications of colloids in microgravity" of the European Space Agency. He has made important contributions to research on nanoparticle suspensions, polymer and surfactant solutions and  biological macromolecules. He is not only a gifted physicists, but equally well versed in history and literature.

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3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Exciting Throughout 11. März 2012
Von AYABANS - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
I found this book to be exciting throughout and I learned a lot, even about those things I thought I already knew about. (I had some basic knowledge of physics, chem, and bio prior to reading this book.) The book did an excellent job of showing how soft matter relates to examples which everyone is familiar with like milk, jelly, soap, toothpaste, detergents, plastics, rubbers, liquid crystals, opals, living things, etc. In this particular book, I liked that the author was well grounded in reality and did not veer too far off into abstract territory without explaining its relevance. There were times when I was afraid that the text was suddenly running off into a seemingly un-related direction, but then it nicely unified the new subject with what had already been discussed. I discovered that I really liked these little twists, in which the author did not give everything up right away but built up suspense. On a larger scale, this culminated in the last non-glossary chapter dealing with cells, the grand finale the entire book had been building up to. I thought this section was particularly beautifully done. Instead of debating what is or isn't life or trying to address some other un-answerable questions, the book instead focused on how previously introduced soft matter concepts offer insight into key cell structures.

In addition, while I was familiar with some of the more common concepts, the author really provided some very good original explanations. In contrast to some other popular science books which simply tell you the conclusions, this books actually explains enough that I felt like I understood where in general the conclusions came from. I liked the way the author could capture key concepts in succinct and memorable phrases. Many of the explanations used some quite creative and funny, if informal, analogies ("If prokaryote m-RNA is like a mozzarella ready to be tasted, that of eukaryotes is like Parmesan cheese, requiring time and loving care before being eaten"). I had learned quite a bit about DNA and the cell before reading this book and did not think that I would want to read more about it. However, I found the author's presentation through the lens of "soft matter" so refreshing that I actually re-read the chapter dealing with the cell.

This book also contained some of my favorite characterizations of other scientists, both past and present. For example, on a famous scientist who worked on soap bubbles, it said that while everyone else in his town was trying to escape Napoleon's army, he was in the woods painting butterflies. I liked that a lot!

It seems that the book was originally written in Italian, and some of the phrases in the English version are not very typical. Overall, when combined with the author's flowing, informal writing, this made for a very dynamic style which never got stale, not even in the frequent footnotes. This style helped convey the author's enthusiasm for the subject, which came off very clearly. A few of the explanations were a bit amorphous in this style and I didn't completely get them, but this did not affect my enjoyment of the book. (It may have helped to know about the glossary at the end, which I did not find out about until I was more than half-way done.) I also was impressed by the author's breadth. The humorous complaints and cultural references which permeated the book nicely rounded out the science. The fact that Italy came up a lot was a nice touch and often funny. For example, one sentence was: "Last but not least, there is a familiar liquid (at least to an Italian like me), olive oil, which contains quite a high amount of natural amphiphiles that, besides solubilizing a small amount of water (which is what actually "fries"), enables it to keep in solution valuable antioxidants such as polyphenols".

The flip side to the casual and flowing writing and creative analogies is that some of the explanations/definitions were not rigorous. In addition, the author openly speculated on certain areas. Both of these were consistent with my understanding that this book was a "popular" book and with the author's own warnings. It did not bother me at all that the some of the assumptions about the reader did not apply directly to me or that they might be considered somewhat stereotypical. The specificity (like at first assuming that the reader is a "gentle lady" who spends a lot of time in the kitchen and/or wears an "opal ring") helped make some of the points more immediate for me. While I noticed several typos, they really did not prevent me from learning a lot and getting swept up in the author's excitement over soft matter.
1 von 7 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Physics Not So Boring 8. Juni 2011
Von TamiCPht - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch
Well I will be the first to admit that physics is not my preferred genre, I found this book relate-able and readable. It made understanding the soft matter of cement and why it needs water in order to harden understandable and simple for those who have no background in science or physics. It was not filled with lofty theories and computations that make similar textbooks boring and uninteresting to the novice. I also gained insight to how closely things in this world are similar.
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