When a geologist publishes a book, chances are it isn’t a steamy, romance novel or a whodunit. Instead the expectation is that such a book would be boring and filled with scientific jargon that doesn’t hold the average person’s interest. In this line of thinking, expectations were probably not very high when along came Michael Welland with his book, “Sand: The Never-Ending story.” Such a development prompted thoughts about imaginary book titles such as – Leaves: The Green Story; Air: It’s Blowing in the Wind; Rain: A Wishy Washy Tale.
As it turns out, beyond desert and dunes and beaches, sand is an integral part of our daily lives in ways we probably rarely stop to consider. In the early days, sand was mixed with clay and straw to form cob, a building material – and no, it didn’t have corn attached to it. But today, the sand around us doesn’t look like sand. It’s in the glass in our skyscrapers and windshields. It’s in the quartz in our gemstones. The pearls in our necklaces. Aerogel in our insulation. Silicon chips in our computers which drive all other technology.
We even consume a fair amount of sand. Not just in cabbages and unwashed lettuce but sand is used in the making of toothpaste – well maybe you don’t swallow your toothpaste. But next time you have a milkshake, well, think food thickener and think sand. But if you can’t stomach that thought, the book also covers what can best be summarized as the art and romance of sand. It’s ability to be shaped by the wind and by monks who make sand mandalas. Either way, we had no idea the story of sand could be so fascinating.
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