It's a Gas

It's a Gas

The Magnificent and Elusive Elements that Expand Our World


Brought to you by Penguin.

The secret life of gases - the strange, elusive and fascinating substances that shape our world, from the author of the best-selling, prize-winning Stuff Matters


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?

Gases illuminate the gap between the known and unknown worlds. It is their vivid intangibility, and yet their powerful role in our lives, which make them so fascinating.

Taking us back to that exhilarating -- and often dangerous -- moment when scientists tried to work out exactly what it was they'd discovered, we see gases as the formative substances of our modern world. From how nitrous oxide and chloroform get into our bloodstream and affect our neural pathways to the gases that make plants grow and flowers smell through to the carbon-fuelled climate crisis, Mark Miodownik masterfully reveals this invisible world through his unique brand of scientific storytelling.

With Miodownik as our guide, it transpires that each of these weird and wonderful substances has its own personality, giving a human angle to this fact-filled delight of a book.

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

©2023 Mark Miodownik (P)2023 Penguin Audio


  • 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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