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Materials science.

Mody, Cyrus C. M. and Martin, Joseph D. (2020) 'Materials science.', in Encyclopedia of the history of science. .


Materials are everywhere. Imagine a common morning routine in the industrialized world. We arise from the synthetic sheets covering our memory-foam mattresses to cook our eggs in Teflon-coated pans while sipping coffee from ceramic mugs. We peer at newspapers through eyeglasses made from light-weight plastics with high refractive indexes. We commute to work in automobiles and trains crafted from bespoke alloys and coated in corrosion resistant paints. Every few minutes or so, we will glance at the shatter-resistant glass screens on our semiconductor- and lithium-ion-battery-powered smart phones. These substances, and the countless others that form the foundation of modern life, overwhelmingly trace their origins to the materials laboratories that proliferated in the mid-twentieth century. As a result, the field is an excellent probe of developments in the history of postwar science and technology, and of the material foundations of postwar life more generally. In exploring these developments, historians have emphasized materials science as an “interdiscipline” produced by distinct institutional rearrangements, which would later be replicated in the creation of bio- and nanotechnology.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Status:Not peer-reviewed
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Publisher statement:This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License.
Date accepted:17 May 2020
Date deposited:19 May 2020
Date of first online publication:30 June 2020
Date first made open access:25 June 2020

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