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© 2011

Soft Matter

The stuff that dreams are made of

Book

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages I-XIV
  2. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 1-6
  3. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 7-54
  4. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 55-97
  5. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 99-138
  6. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 139-164
  7. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 165-226
  8. Roberto Piazza
    Pages 227-276
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 277-279

About this book

Introduction

‘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.

Keywords

cells as soft materials complex fluids jamming plastics and polymers explained the physics of biological matter understanding polymer dynamics

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Dipto. Ingegneria Nucleare, Centro Studi Nucleari Enrico FermiPolitecnico di MilanoMilanoItaly

About the authors

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.

Bibliographic information

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Reviews

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)