A World History
by Aarathi Prasad
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Pub Date 30 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 25 Jun 2024
In a gorgeous history that spans continents and millennia, Aarathi Prasad weaves together the complex story of the queen of fabrics. Through the scientists who have studied silk, and the biology of the animals from which it has been drawn, Prasad explores the global, natural, and cultural history (and future) of a unique material that has fascinated the world for thousands of years.
Silk—prized for its lightness, luminosity, and beauty—is also one of the strongest biological materials ever known. More than a century ago, it was used to make the first bulletproof vest, and yet science has barely even begun to tap its potential. As the technologies it has inspired—from sutures to pharmaceuticals, replacement body parts to holograms—continue to be developed in laboratories around the world, they are now also beginning to offer a desperately needed, sustainable alternative to the plastics choking our planet.
Aarathi Prasad’s Silk is a cultural and biological history from the origins and ancient routes of silk to the biologists who learned the secrets of silk-producing animals, manipulating the habitats and physiologies of moths, spiders, and mollusks. Because there is more than one silk, there is more than one story of silk. More than one road, more than one people who discovered it, and wove its threads.
From the moths of China, Indonesia, and India to the spiders of South America and Madagascar and the silk-producing mollusks of the Mediterranean, Silk is a book rich in the passionate connections made by people of science to the diversity of the animal world. It is an intoxicating read, a mix of biography and science, that not only brings to life the vast, winding history of silk, but also looks to its future as a resource with incredible, untapped potential.