How do you make a chemical-resistant beaker out of a material as fragile as glass? And how do you tell the temperature of a piece of steel without a thermometer?

These are questions Anna Ploszajski tackles in her book Handmade: A Scientist’s Search for Meaning through Making. A materials scientist, engineer, science communicator and occasional stand-up comedian, Ploszajski explores the domain of makers and craftspeople. With knowledge accumulated over generations of trial and error, these experimenters understand popular materials like glass, steel and wood far better than any scientist.

In this episode, we talk to Ploszajski about finding fresh perspectives by stepping outside the scientific realm, and find out whether every materials scientist should take up blacksmithing.

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry

You can also read Jen’s review of Handmade here.

In our next episode, we’ll be reading Vampirology: The Science of Horror’s Most Famous Fiend, the new title by chemist and science communicator Kathryn Harkup. The book charts the murky waters of the vampire myth to investigate how scientific interpretations may shed some light on it. If you like Harkup’s work, we discussed her first book A is for Arsenic in our very first book club episode.

If you, dear listener, have any thoughts on Handmade or know of a book you would like us to discuss in an upcoming book club, let us know in the comments below or tweet at us @ChemistryWorld.