04 April 2010

Material values

Early in the film Up in the Air1, characters played by George Clooney and Vera Farmiga start a casual relationship whose emptiness is emphasised in a pointedly tragicomic scene. Picking up one of Clooney’s airline loyalty cards, Farmiga asks “what is that, carbon fibre? ... I love the weight!” and follows up shortly thereafter with “pretty sexy”. It’s a whole new way of looking at materials science.

Carbon fibre, now so ubiquitous that it can be wasted in Clooney’s loyalty card, was of course a fairly early stage in the down-scale migration of materials science. What was considered daringly tiny when I learned my chemistry is now referred to as ‘bulk scale’, the nanoscale has become every day, and quantum effects are the new hunting ground. [More...]

  1. Reitman, J., Up in the Air. 2009, Hollywood CA: Paramount Pictures.

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