60-Second Science

Materials Science's Greatest Hits

At their annual meeting, TMS 2007, the The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society announced the greatest moments in materials science history.

Here are the top three reasons I hate lists.  1. They’re too subjective.  2. I usually don’t know what their purpose is.  3. They’re too subjective.  4. They can be redundant.  5. They pick an arbitrary number of things to celebrate. 

That said, The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society at their recent annual meeting announced their top 10 Greatest Materials Moments in History!  We don’t have time for all 10, but what the heck, here are the top 3.

Number 3.  Invention of the transistor, the building block of modern electronics, in 1948 by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley.  Bardeen is also part of the answer to my favorite trivia question, name the people who have won two Nobel Prizes. 

Number 2.  Iron smelting, invented by the Egyptians some 5500 years ago.  Once smelted in the delta, iron went on to become the world’s dominant metallurgical material.

And the number one greatest materials moment in history is…the creation of the periodic table of the elements by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1864, providing the reference work for the entire field of materials science, not to mention the universe.  Dmitri is long dead, but US automakers keep looking for men-to-lay-off. For the whole list of material science greatest moments go to

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