Science teacher and writer Swanson tells the story behind nanotechnology’s introduction and impact on sports.
Swanson defines her subject as “the science of things at the nanoscale....Nano- means ‘one-billionth,’ so a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter” before going on to explore how nanotechnologists are proceeding from superfibers to discover still more inventive ways to apply the technology to fabrics and equipment. She hasn’t found a really comfortable fit between her audience and her writing in this effort. She asks readers to field concepts such as molecular structure and the refractive qualities of nanoparticles on the dispersion of light, and she also belts out “Now that’s tiny!” or “We’re talking about some pretty small stuff!” The two don’t jibe. Nor do her introductions to the chapters on various nanotech uses square with the material coming later in the chapter. “From swimming to biking to running, the fastest person to finish is the winner,” she writes at the beginning of the chapter on “super suits” before going on to discuss “silicon nanofilaments” with “microscopic spikes.” Swanson is splendid at explaining how nanotechnology works, and boxed asides help readers conduct experiments on drag, surface area, and such. But she can also go wrong. “There is no prize for being the best drafter.” The best drafters are in the best position to win, which they then often do. Ask Apolo Ohno.
Plenty of good science sunk by tone and blunders. (Nonfiction. 9-12)