A material world

layersA rather touching story of one man’s creation of a vast materials library of weird and wonderful substances, Mark Miodownik talks about the Kings College Materials Library:

There are turbine jet-engine blades grown from a single crystal and designed to function in the most inhospitable places on the planet. There’s a swatch of the world’s blackest black, 25 times blacker than conventional black paint. There’s a lead bell that refuses to ring, a piece of bone with a saw through it, and the largest blob of Silly Putty you’re ever likely to see.

The philosophy behind the project is charming as well, an attempt to bridge the gap between the two cultures of science and art:

“It’s a way into science for arts people,” Miodownik says. “And for the scientists it’s a lesson in aesthetics and the sensual nature of what they’re doing. It’s a place for people to go to who have an idea floating around the back of their head that hasn’t bubbled to the surface yet.”

[image from doug88888 on flickr][from the FT]