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In a daring image at the beginning of Solid State Insurrection: How the Science of Substance Made American Physics Matter, science historian Joseph D Martin compares the rise of solid-state physics to the plot of the original Star Wars movie. Both, he points out, involve “a ragtag band of misfits, many of whom are adept at manipulating a force pervading everyday matter, who ally to mount an insurrection against the established order and help destroy a giant, partially built beam machine”.

At first the image seems over the top, the hyped image of a popularizer. But what follows over the next thoroughly documented 200 pages is a dramatic story, by a skilled historian, of just that.

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Category: Science