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Soft Matter


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Table of Contents

Foreword Preface to the English edition 1 Overture: a special day 2 A life in suspense 2.1 A big cast of little characters 2.2 When it pays to be superficial 2.3 Colloidal Waterage, an award-winning firm 2.4 Rock and roll in suspense 2.5 Osmosis, the breath of a dispersed world 2.6 Colloidal Lego, matter made to measure 2.7 Softness without limit: fractal aggregates 2.8 Concrete: united by charge 2.9 Particles spreading waves: colloidal light and colors 2.10 A very particular particulate ink 2.11 Flying colloids: deceptive beauty of the aerosols 3 Freedom in chains 3.1 Long and disordered queues 3.2 A tale of cross-links and double-crosses 3.3 Necklaces for all tastes 3.4 Plastics: false solids with a biddable disposition 3.5 Snake dance 3.6 Entropy: disorder or freedom? 3.7 Elastic by chance 3.8 The secret of Mister Fantastic 3.9 Panta rei 3.10 Nightmares for Indiana Jones 3.11 Charged polymers: polyelectrolytes 4 Double-faced Janus molecules 4.1 Striding on water: the physics of Jesus bugs 4.2 Surfactants, a split personality 4.3 Soap bubbles: a paradise for kids and math nerds 4.4 Micelles, when surfactants find peace 4.5 As white as can be: the science of cleaning 4.6 A large and varied family 4.7 Questions of shape 4.8 A mischievous break: watch the label! 4.9 Small but mighty emulsions 4.10 Black gold 5 Nanoarchitecture 5.1 Kepler, Bernal, and your greengrocer 5.2 Colloidal crystals: ordered by entropy 5.3 Glasses and gels, when hate and love yield similar results 5.4 The world is not (just) a ball 5.5 Sand castles and shifting sands 6 Dreamtime 6.1 Concludo, ergo sum 6.2 Proteins, a matter of molecular origami 6.3 Little chemists 6.4 Truck drivers and intelligence 6.5 Freemen of Flatland 6.6 Yard workers 6.7 Body builders 6.8 A (protein-rich) lunch break 6.9 Artificial respiration 6.10 The Chieftain and his Shaman 6.10.1 The secret of simplicity 6.10.2 Message in a bottle 6.10.3 Double helices and strategies to pull them apart 6.10.4 The great contortionist 6.10.5 The queen bee and her workers 6.10.6 From Gladstone Gander to Donald Duck 6.10.7 The factory of dreams 6.10.8 Inner secrets of the Chieftain 6.10.9 Time dust or stardust? 6.11 Back to the future Weird words: soft matter from A to Z Index of common things (or almost so)

About the Author

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.


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)

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