AP1200 Foundation Physics
In this Chapter we will introduce materials science and engineering.
Materials are everywhere around us: nature has produced stone, metals, sand, mud, as well as
many kinds of highly specialized biological materials, from wood and bone to muscles, skin,
light detectors, nerves and brain; humans use many different materials to make walls,
windows, furniture, lamps, pipes, instruments, computers, telephones, PDAs, pens, clothes,
health products, pharmaceuticals, bottles, bags, machines, vehicles, etc. Every object that we
see is made of some material or, more frequently, of a combination of different materials.
Civilization depends on materials
: human history can be divided into the
, and perhaps the
, reflecting the central role taken by materials. Fig. 8.1 shows
the interesting evolution of the human use of materials through different stages of civilization.
Until about 2000 years ago, mankind relied primarily on ceramics (stone, pottery) and a few
glasses, as well as on natural materials like wood, skins and fibers. A few composite materials
were also developed, such as straw and bricks mixed for stronger house construction, and
paper made from fibers for writing.
Materials through the ages
The metals gold and copper were used early in civilization, because they could be found
“ready made” in nature, but they are too soft for many applications. Bronze was the first
metal to be prepared by man, by combining copper with other metals. It was stronger and so