It's a Gas

It's a Gas

The Magnificent and Elusive Elements that Expand Our World


'A witty, smart writer who has a great talent' Bill Gates

Why are most gases invisible, odourless and tasteless? Why do some poison us and others make us laugh? And why do some power our engines while others make drinks fizzy? In It's a Gas, Mark Miodownik masterfully reveals an invisible world through his unique brand of scientific storytelling.

Taking us back to that exhilarating – and often dangerous – moment when scientists tried to work out exactly what they had discovered, Miodownik shows that gases are the formative substances of our modern world, each with its own weird and wonderful personality.

We see how seventeenth-century laughing gas parties led to the first use of anaesthetics in surgery, how the invention of the air valve in musical instruments gave us bicycles, cars and trainers, and how gases made us masters of the sea (by huge steamships) and skies (via extremely flammable balloons). This delight of a book reveals the immense importance of gases to modern civilisation.


  • It's not just a gas, it’s a blast. A brilliant, bracing journey though the past, present and future of the invisible stuff you can’t see, but is everywhere. Read this book and you'll never see, smell or inhale the world quite the same again
    Ed Conway, author of Material World

About the author

Mark Miodownik

A Financial Times Master of Science and chosen by The Times as one of the 100 most influential scientists in the UK, Mark Miodownik is Professor of Materials and Society at University College London, where he is also Director of the Institute of Making. He is the author of the book Stuff Matters – a New York Times bestseller which won the Royal Society Winton Prize – and Liquid, which was shortlisted for the same prize. He presents BBC TV and radio programmes on science and engineering such as Everyday Miracles and How It Works.
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