cover

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Front Matter

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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p. v

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. vii-xii

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PREFACE

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pp. xiii-xvi

As a child in the 1970s, I seemed to grow up at the University of Akron. My father was an administrator there for over thirty years and on Saturdays he would take me with him to his office and share stories of its past. While he worked, I would sometimes play on the winding...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-9

Archaeologists have defined past civilizations by the materials that predominated in their societies. The evolution of the use of these materials— stone, bronze, and iron—enabled significant and concurrent changes in the cultures that mastered them. The ability to develop...

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1 The Birth of Rubber Chemistry 1909–1941

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pp. 10-44

centuries ago, rubber—or “caoutchouc” as it was then known—was simply a curious, sappy, milky-white substance that flowed from over three hundred different...

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2 THE SYNTHETIC QUEST 1941–1956

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pp. 45-76

“attention, citizens of the united states!” wrote an MIT professor in 1942. “Our present rubber situation is serious, deadly serious. . . .”1 With nearly the entire world’s supply of natural rubber under the control of Japan, an...

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3 POLYMERS, POLITICS, AND A PH.D. 1956–1959

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pp. 77-113

in 1938, Herman F. Mark and his family were running for their lives. Mark had been a preeminent polymer chemist at IG Farben in Germany, the leading chemical company in Europe at that time, and Mark’s polymer knowledge was of tremendous value to...

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4 RUBBER’S PAST AND POLYMER’S FUTURE 1958–1978

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pp. 114-146

in 1962, Time magazine published an article in which the author recalled a scientific “age of innocence” when the pursuit of science was neatly divided into distinct specialties of chemistry, physics, and biology. Those days...

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5 THE SUMMIT OF POLYMER VALLEY 1978–1991

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pp. 147-188

If Charles Dickens could have traveled through time to Akron, Ohio, in the late 1970s, he might have been inspired to write a sequel to his Tale of Two Cities...

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6 APPLYING POLYMERS 1983–2001

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pp. 189-222

in 1942, an article entitled “plastics come of age,” appeared in Harper’s magazine.1 Its writers made a bold argument that in the near future synthetic plastic substances constructed in laboratories would have a revolutionary...

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7 THE POLYMER STATE 1999–2007

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pp. 223-266

In April 2001, Newsweek published an article celebrating the emergence of a “new brand of tech city.” Journalist Adam Rogers and a team of reporters identified a list of cities building new economies with unique...

APPENDIX A

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pp. 267-269

APPENDIX B

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pp. 270-271

APPENDIX C

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pp. 272-275

APPENDIX D

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pp. 276-282

APPENDIX E

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pp. 283-292

APPENDIX F

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p. 293

NOTES

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pp. 295-341

INDEX

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pp. 343-356

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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p. 357

Mark D. Bowles has authored or coauthored seven books on the history of space exploration, nuclear research, and medicine. His book, Science in Flux, won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ 2005 History Manuscript Award, which is presented each...