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MIT Press

The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another

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In the bestselling tradition of Stuff Matters and The Disappearing Spoon a clever and engaging look at materials, the innovations they made possible, and how these technologies changed us. Finalist for the 41st Los Angeles Times Book Award in Science and Technology and selected as one of the Best Summer Science Books Of 2020 by Science Friday.

 

In The Alchemy of Us, scientist and science writer Ainissa Ramirez examines eight inventions--clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips--and reveals how they shaped the human experience.

Ramirez tells the stories of the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hotheaded undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer.

She describes, among other things, how our pursuit of precision in timepieces changed how we sleep; how the railroad helped commercialize Christmas; how the necessary brevity of the telegram influenced Hemingway's writing style; and how a young chemist exposed the use of Polaroid's cameras to create passbooks to track Black citizens in apartheid, South Africa.

These fascinating and inspiring stories offer new perspectives on our relationships with technology.

Author: Ainissa Ramirez
Publisher: MIT Press
Published: 04/06/2021
Pages: 328
Binding Type: Paperback
Weight: 1.15lbs
Size: 8.90h x 6.00w x 1.10d
ISBN: 9780262542265

About the Author
Ainissa Ramirez is a materials scientist and sought-after public speaker and science communicator. A Brown and Stanford graduate, she has worked as a research scientist at Bell Labs and held academic positions at Yale University and MIT. She has written for Time, Scientific American, the American Scientist, and Forbes, and makes regular appearances on PBS's SciTech Now.

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