From Pottery to Plastics
What are materials? They are the “stuff” that makes up things in the world. We depend on materials for life’s essentials and pleasures. Materials comprise buildings, roads, clothing, X-ray machines and laboratory instruments, books, computers, CDs and DVDs. Materials scientists provide ultra-strong “super materials” for jet airplanes, space ships, nuclear power plants, and industrial equipment and processes. They discover new materials that are stronger, lighter, and more durable, and find ways to give existing materials those key properties. Materials scientists also develop ways of manufacturing new materials in the huge quantities needed for commercial products.
Years ago, people had access only to materials that exist in nature -- wood; animal skin, tendon, bone, and hair; plant fibers; stone and other minerals. Then they learned how to use those raw materials to make aluminum, iron, glass, ceramics, and other products that were part natural and partly the work of human ingenuity. Ohioans helped open the new era of synthetic materials like cellophane, Fiberglas, PVC plastic, liquid crystals, and Teflon.