Sticky: The Secret Science of Surfaces
(Trade Paperback / Paperback)
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At the scale of atoms and molecules, things quite often like to stick together. But these tiny interactions don't just matter at the nanoscale; taken together, they produce some important larger-scale forces friction, for example. This force keeps our cars on the road, trains on ...the tracks and our feet on the ground; similarly, anything moving through water or air encounters drag, a force caused by the viscous nature of fluids. In other words, there's a lot of stickiness going on, all the time. But what do we actually know about the physics of stickiness? What's really going on? How has nature evolved to make use of it, and what technological advances has it enabled the human race to create? In Sticky, physicist Laurie Winkless brings the amazing world of surface science to the popular science market for the fist time. Using her characteristic fun and relaxed tone, she introduces readers to the glues, adhesives and textures that rule and improve stickiness to give plants and animals an advantage, as well as uncovering the physics behind our sense of touch. Sticky also shows how our understanding of slipperiness opened the door to high-speed flight and space travel, and asks why friction and other surface interactions can cause machinery to literally grind to a halt. This is fundamentally a materials science book, but it touches on topics as broad as medicine, robotics and geology. And, as we'll discover, there are still many great mysteries. By exploring the tiniest of interactions, Laurie Winkless shows how civilisation owes a great deal to our knowledge of the science of stickiness.