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Sand: Book summary and reviews of Sand by Michael Welland

Sand

The Never-Ending Story

by Michael Welland

Sand by Michael Welland X
Sand by Michael Welland
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About this book

Book Summary

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 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--sand forensics, the physics of granular materials, sedimentology, paleontology and archaeology, planetary exploration--and at the same time 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. Sand, in fact, is all around us--it has made possible our computers, buildings and windows, toothpaste, cosmetics, and paper, and it has played dramatic roles in human history, commerce, and imagination. In this luminous, kinetic, revelatory account, we do indeed find the world in a grain of sand.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Welland's eye-opening, even poetic story of sand, science writing as entertaining as it is profound, reveals the interconnectivity of life on Earth and beyond as he describes the sands of Mars and muses, 'Sand and dust are the stuff the universe is made of.'" - Booklist.

"Anyone who has walked on a beach, run up a sand dune, or built a sand castle will be fascinated by this excellent book." - Library Journal.

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Reader Reviews

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Michael Hobday

Sand - Welland
Anybody who believes that sand is composed of uniform, rounded
grains of quartz whose main use is to make cement and glass will not
have read Michael Welland's recent book, entitled simply, "Sand". In the
book Welland sets out to answer the questions: Sand? What is it?
What use is it? Where does it come from? How did it get there? He
answers these questions as perhaps only an ardent enthusiast can, and
along the way he answers a hundred other questions cataloging the
properties, uses and beauties of this ubiquitous, essential, constituent
of our planet (and its immediate neighbors)

He describes the erosion of a grain of sand in the mountains and we
follow its progress to the sea along a river system, we track its path
from offshore sand bar to sand bank to beach until it is eventually
deposited in the ocean deep where it awaits its turn for eventual
relithification, uplift and cycle repeat. His description of onshore sand
dunes and sand seas is enhanced by personal observations from his
work with the British Geological Survey in Oman and his work in the
Sahara

With the help of "geological forensics" Welland explains that we can
unravel the history of sand assemblages stretching back over
numerous erosional/depositional cycles, while at the same time
admitting that that are still a few intriguing gaps in our knowledge that
remain to be solved

The style is modern-light, and the book is written with humour. It is
more Bill Bryson than university lecture and all the more enjoyable for
that. The extensive bibliography gives some idea of the research
involved, and judging by the interesting asides that remain, one can see
that one of Mike's main problems was deciding what to leave out of the
final manuscript rather than what to include. A book for the inquisitive
-minded amateur, it is obviously a labour of love

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Author Information

Michael Welland

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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