Segments in this Video

Introduction—The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of the Modern Age (01:26)


Materials engineer Zoe Laughlin investigates the materials we use to shape our world. In this video, she will examine developments in medicine, construction, fashion, transportation, security, and communication.

Institute of Making (02:37)

Materials have unique characteristics that dictate how they behave under certain conditions. Laughlin highlights a spring made of nitinol, steel fibers, and aerogel.

Transport Friction (05:11)

The science of how railways work has changed little in the last 150 years; friction works against train efficiency. Experts use magnets to reduce friction. Laughlin demonstrates superconductor levitation.

Material Coatings (03:52)

Coatings can change material properties and performance; Laughlin demonstrates hydrophobic coating. Aerospace companies use woven ceramic coatings on jet turbine engines to improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

Dental Materials (06:01)

Crowns and fake teeth are made of zirconia. Hydrothermal aging causes ceramic breakdown; grain structure reduction can make the material longer lasting. Prof. Vaidhyanathan uses nano-sized zirconia in a 3D printer to create teeth.

Orthopedic Materials (05:15)

Creating an implant with porous space will allow bone to grow into the material. Renishaw uses powdered titanium to create implants. Archie is one of the first dogs to receive a porous implant.

Construction Materials (07:56)

Despite the use of more sustainable products, 33% of the UK's waste comes from construction; MDF has carcinogenic properties. Chip[s]Board uses potato waste to create building materials; BIOHM uses mycelium.

Mycelium Building Material (02:17)

Laughlin tests mycelium insulation with a blow torch. The product protects a frozen desert and is self-extinguishing.

Fashion Materials (04:19)

Clothing manufacturing has a significant environmental impact. Ananas-Anam uses Piñatex to make shoes, bags, and soft interiors; the pineapple leaf fiber material is biodegradable.

Security Materials (08:23)

Scientists investigate ways to improve protective qualities. Laughlin demonstrates the two ways materials cope with impact. Experts use two polymers and two ceramic powders to create a protective material that harnesses the properties of thermodynamics.

Communication Materials (06:27)

Glass fibers conduct light. Experts channel laser light through water to demonstrate fiber optic cable functionality. The next generation of fiber optic cables guides data through a corridor of air inside the glass at a 30% faster rate.

Data Storage (04:24)

Prof. David Payne explains using small glass disks to resolve storage issues. Prof. Peter Kazansky reveals a disc encrypted with the Bible; a CD-sized disc can hold 360 terabytes of data.

Credits: The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of the Modern Age (00:37)

Credits: The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of the Modern Age

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The Secret Story of Stuff: Materials of the Modern Age

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Material scientist Zoe Laughlin has been obsessed with the material world all her life. From her workshop in the heart of London, Zoe explains the science behind new materials that will change six key aspects of our lives. Innovation in healthcare, construction, fashion, transport, defense, and communication are driving society forward. Zoe takes us on a journey like no other, meeting the scientists and entrepreneurs who want to use fungus to grow the homes of the future and create new digital storage from the most common material on the surface of our planet, sand.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL203148

ISBN: 978-1-64867-572-0

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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