Top positive review
Can you imagine a life without what we take for granted?
Reviewed in the United States on May 25, 2017
Stop. Look around you right now. It doesn't matter if you are standing or sitting. You may be in your office, room, local coffee shops, or on a bus or subway. Now, you may bethink yourself of nothing of importance around you. Don't quit just yet. Try again, and have a long look at your surroundings. No sooner do you submit to my admonition than do you realize you are enmeshed by things – simply things: computers, phones, windows, books, clothes, food, metal objects, plastic objects, buildings, mirrors, utensils such as a spoon or fork, and etc. Hardly do we pay any much attention to those things as we live our lives. Of course, they are nothing out of ordinary; we see them every day. They have existed around us and surely will in the foreseeable future.
Nonetheless, can you imagine a life without them? – sleeping on hay or a lump of leaves; cooking with sharp rocks; eating with our own hands; living in a cave; and writing memo by engraving on a stone tablet in the absence of paper. This kind of life style is akin to that of our ancestors back in the Stone Age, approximately 1-2 million years ago. And that is precisely correct. Our lives without what we take for granted will be exactly like it. Many things around us, which we are absentmindedly taking for granted on a daily basis as I showed you, are the tangible results of the apotheosis of technology and science in the span of the entire human history. Our history, since the emergence of Homo sapiens, is inseparable to the history of materials. Indeed, the biggest milestones and that which separates distinct epochs in history, undoubtedly, are from the names of materials to have been utilized at each as shows in the three age system - Stone, Bronze, and Iron. They behaved differently, also, depending on what materials they were using at each time, as though their history was dictated by the very own material that they discovered and invented. The essence of which ought to have given you an aha moment.
The author has pointed this out in the first chapter which made me awe-struck. Whether or not you are a science geek, (Although, I don't consider myself a geek. But I have been on a science book reading streak of late. Maybe I am?) you will enjoy this book. This book is not very rarefied at all, written for common people, so much so that the author came up with a brilliant way to easily explain on the evolution of plastic, that is, by writing a screenplay, the main story of which evolves around the protagonist who invents plastic material. Not only is it fun to read, but also it is your responsibility as a modern person to know how the materials that shroud us came about. Only after you learn the struggle and inconvenience through which those who passed before us went without what we have now, are we called up to a true veneration for the things that sustain our modern life style.
That is, before stainless steel was invented, people tasted metal in their food from cutlery. Before the invention of amalgam which is the mixture of various metals, the dentists waited out a tooth to go completely rot only to pull out the tooth. Without plastic film, no way could it be possible that cameras were widely distributed and enjoyed by many in the early 20th century. There exist countless examples of such in the book. Don’t miss out the chapters on metal and chocolate which were my favorite.