The Coming of Materials Science both covers the discipline of materials science, and draws an impressionistic map of the present state of the subject.

The first chapter examines the emergence of the materials science concept, in both academe and industry. The second and third chapters delve back into the prehistory of materials science, examining the growth of such concepts as atoms, crystals and thermodynamics, and also examine the evolution of a number of neighbouring disciplines, to see what helpful parallels might emerge.

The book contains numerous literature references. Many refer to the earliest key papers and books, while others are to sources, often books, offering a view of the present state of a topic. Early references are to the past but as the book continues, it brings the reader up to date with more recent sources.

The author, Professor Robert Cahn FRS, has striven to be critical about the history of the discipline of materials science and to draw general conclusions about scientific practice from what he has discovered about the evolution of materials science. Further issues that the book highlights include: What is a scientific discipline? How do disciplines merge and differentiate? Can a discipline also be interdisciplinary? Is materials science a real discipline? A large range of themes is presented in the book and readers are invited to interact with the author if they reach alternative conclusions. This book is not just for reading and reference, but exists to stimulate thought and provoke discussion as well.


For Materials Scientists working in all areas of this subject requiring a book which provides a history of their field.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Genesis of a Concept. References. The Emergence of Disciplines. Drawing Parallels. The Natural History of Disciplines. References. Precursors of Materials Science. The Legs of the Tripod. Some Other Precursors. Early Role of Solid-State Physics. References. The Virtues of Subsidiarity. The Role of Parepisternes in Materials Science. Some Parepistemes. Genesis and Integration of Parepistemes. References. The Escape from Handwaving. The Birth of Quantitative Theory in Physical Metallurgy. References. Characterization. Introduction. Examination of Microstructure. Spectrometric Techniques. Thermoanalytical Methods. Hardness. Concluding Considerations. References. Functional Materials. Introduction. Electrical Materials. Magnetic Ceramics. Computer Memories. Optical Glass. Liquid Crystals. Xerography. Envoi. References. The Polymer Revolution. Beginnings. Polymer Synthesis. Concepts in Polymer Science. Crystalline and Semicrystalline Polymers. Statistical Mechanics of Polymers. Polymer Processing. Determining Molecular Weights. Polymer Surfaces and Adhesion. Electrical Properties of Polymers. References. Craft Turned into Science. Metals and Alloys for Engineering, Old and New. Plastic Forming and Fracture of Metals and Alloys and of Composites. The Evolution of Advanced Ceramics. Sintering and Powder Compaction. Strong Structural Ceramics. Glass-ceramics. References. Materials in Extreme States. Forms of Extremity. Extreme Treatments. Extreme Microstructures. Ultrahigh Vacuum and Surface Science. Extreme Thinness. Extreme Symmetry. Extreme States Compared. References. Materials Chemistry and Biomimetics. The Emergence of Materials Chemistry. Selected Topics in Materials Chemistry. Electrochemistry. References. Compute


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© 2001
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About the editor

R.W. Cahn

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK


@qu:"...not just for reading and reference, but exists to stimulate thought and provoke discussion as well." @source:ZEITSCHRIFT FUR KRISTALLOGRAPHIE @qu:"Another good read is The Coming of Materials Science by R.W. Cahn..." @source:ULTRAMICROSCOPY @from:S. Mossman, Science Museum, London @qu:' immensely valuable source of information about a science which has now reached maturity.' @source:AMBIX @from:D.A. Weitz, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts @qu:'...a lively and interesting read...The Coming of Materials Science provides an engaging account of the field's evolution, and for that, is well worth reading.' @source:PHYSICS TODAY @from:A. Uguz, Uludag University @qu:'As A. Cottrell says on the back of this book, this book is really a masterpiece by Cahn, who has been the Pergamon Materials Series editor and an important name in the history of materials science and engineering. Thank you for writing this book!' @source:JOM @from:D.Hull FRS FREng @qu:'Robert Cahn's monumental work, The coming of materials science, is the product of a lifetime's involovement in the science of materials...The breadth of the subject treated in this book is exceptional including, as it does, detailed accounts of the scientists and their creations across a very wide field of materials-metals, polymers and ceramics...The emphasis is on describing the development of high-quality original, trail-blazing, research...' @source:NOTES AND RECORDS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF LONDON @from:W. Pabst @qu:

Reading this book is exciting mainly for the personal view it conveys, since Cahn, apart from being doubtlessly one of the main figures and propagators of MSE, and being well known as a distinguished researcher in the field of phys