Stuff matters

My son is the black sheep of the family. Unlike his sister, his mother or me (all of whom studied/is studying science or engineering at university) he graduated with a Batchelor of Arts degree.

Although he got top grades in all his science GCSEs, he showed no interest in studying what my dad would call “a proper subject”. I blame myself and I worry what he will make of his life saddled with a wishy washy arts degree.

I mean apart from umpteen Politicians, a few Prime Ministers, media figures, business leaders etc. etc. what ever becomes of Oxford University politics, philosophy and economics graduates?

My son drew to my attention the following post on website linked to his old college by a student studying a “proper subject”, Materials Science.

I had never heard of Mark Miodownik, but I wanted to find out more about this book that has clearly had such an impact on an impressionable young undergraduate. So £5.99 later I was the proud owner of an audio version of “Stuff Matters” and, I must say, it’s very good. I particularly liked his analogy to describe the feeling that many people share who prefer their concrete hidden away behind steel and glass.

Like bone we prefer it on the inside, when it sticks out we are repulsed

Mark Miodownik

Apart from concrete, Miodownik writes in an accessible and engaging way, about a number of different materials , including steel, wood, ceramics, carbon and even chocolate. Perhaps, if I’d given my son a copy of this to read instead of Harry Potter he might have seen the light and maybe studied Materials Science or Engineering. Mind you, if you choose the 3 year degree option, you will graduate with a BA in Materials Science (only at Oxford!).

Unsurprisingly, like the perceptive undergraduate, concrete tops my favourite material list, but after listening to Miodownik’s book, carbon has shot up the rankings to 2nd. The world of diamonds, graphite and graphene sounds fascinating, but not as fascinating as concrete.

#Miodownik #concrete