Sand: The Never-Ending Story

( 2 )

Overview

"From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to aeons in the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials. Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, Sand examines the science - the physics and forensics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration - and explores the rich human context of sand." Interwoven with tales of ...
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Sand: The Never-Ending Story

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Overview

"From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years in the past to aeons in the future, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest, most powerful, and most ubiquitous materials. Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language and narrative, Sand examines the science - the physics and forensics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration - and explores the rich human context of sand." Interwoven with tales of artists, mathematicians, explorers, and even a vampire, the story of sand is an epic of environmental construction and destruction, an adventure in staggering scales of time and distance, yet a tale that encompasses the ordinary and everyday.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Though we rarely consider the implications of the sand we encounter daily (as wind-borne grit or the beach on which we walk), geologist Welland finds much that's relevant and fascinating in the ancient history and present role of sand. In precise and poetic prose, Welland ponders sand's strict definition (based on particle size) and multifarious composition (from quartz grains to calcareous microfossils) Before addressing the subject from every other angle, from the strange fluid mechanics of moving sand masses to the bizarre elegance of sand art. Unsurprisingly, sand's history encompasses much of geological, biological and human history: how mountains grow and crumble, how rivers move the earth, how minute creatures keep beaches clean, how desert winds shape dunes and the impact of sand migration on humanity. In a clever framing device, Welland follows a single particle of sand down the valley of the Susquehanna River and out into the depths of the sea, which keeps his far-flung investigation on track from elemental force to industrial-era necessity (Chapter 9, "Servant of Our Lives," is an entertaining A-to-Z list of the ways sand and humans interact). Welland's work even manages to sift some romance from the subject, firmly cementing this fun-to-read text as a worthy science title for the masses.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal

Sand has a sense of vastness, mystery, and power. It is both a nuisance and a powerful tool as the smallest grain on a beach or as vast desert landscapes. Welland, a professional geologist in the oil and gas industry, weaves an insightful narrative about one of our planet's most ubiquitous and fundamental materials. He discusses the science, geology, and cultural significance of sand as a critical ingredient in so many aspects of our lives. Learn about arenophiles, sand forensics, extraterrestrial sand, Udden-Wentworth scale, Bagnold formula, and how sand shapes our environment. A highlight of the book is the chapter "Sand in Our Lives," in which Welland documents the use of sand as the basic building block for many products including stone, glass, toothpaste, cement, and pharmaceuticals. Anyone who has walked on a beach, run up a sand dune, or built a sand castle will be fascinated by this excellent book written for amateur scientists and the general public. Highly recommended for all undergraduate and public libraries.
—Ian D. Gordon

Chronicle Review

Welland's multidisciplinary portrait is as versatile as the element itself.
Science News

“There are worlds to see in a grain of sand, and a world of fascinating information in this book.”
Orion

“There have been many “single subject” books, but Welland’s is a masterpiece of readability. . . .Accessible, charming, and full of story.”
Earth Magazine

“Few of us are lucky enough to know sand as well as Michael Welland, but with this book, we can begin to learn.”
Bookforum

“An exploration of the ubiquitous granules in all their glory.”
About.com

“Welland has touched seemingly all of history, Earth and space . . . a rare achievement that guarantees the pleasure of learning with every rereading.”
Science (AAAS)

“An awareness book, opening readers' eyes to the many sides of sand, (and) its importance to our quality of life.”
Aeolian Research

“A fascinating book. . . . Masterful, imaginative and thoughtful. . . . extraordinary.”
The Link

“Fascinating.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520265974
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 360
  • Sales rank: 802,790
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Michael Welland is a geologist who has worked around the world in the energy industry. He is a fellow of the Geological Societies of America and London and the Royal Society for the Arts and Commerce.
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Table of Contents

1 Individuals: Birth and Character 1

2 Tribes: The Strange World of Granular Materials 31

3 Sand and Imagination I: Very Large Numbers of Very Small Things 66

4 Societies on the Move: A Journey to the Sea 77

5 Moving On: Waves, Tides, and Storms 107

6 Blowing in the Wind: Desert Landscapes 146

7 Witness: Testaments of Sand 176

8 Sand and Imagination II: Stories, Medium, and Muse 214

9 Servant: Sand in Our Lives 234

10 Outward and Onward: Beyond Earth, beyond the Present 272

Epilogue: A Desert Mystery 301

Sources and Further Reading 305

Index 323

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 27, 2009

    SAND by Michael Welland

    After finishing my morning walk around the park I sat and dumped the sand out of my shoe. It made me smile since I've recently finished reading SAND by Michael Welland. He has done an excellent job of blending the science of sand with literature. It is amazing how often these tiny grains impact our lives. I'd like to try some of the experiments he discusses. This book goes beyond just being for geologists and soil scientists. It will be enjoyed by anyone. Thank you!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 25, 2014

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