From individual grains to desert dunes, from the bottom of the sea to the landscapes of Mars, and from billions of years past, this is the extraordinary story of one of nature's humblest materials.
Told by a geologist with a novelist's sense of language, "Sand" examines sand scientifically — and at the same time explores the rich human context of sand. Interwoven with tales of artists, mathematicians, explorers, the story of sand is an epic of environmental production 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, and it has played dramatic roles in human history; art, commerce, war, etc...
Illustration from: http://www.throughthesandglass.typepad.com/
This is much more than a book about what sand is - though that's covered in considerable depth - it's about its physical nature, how it is made, how human beings have responded to it and much more.
We plunge into the detail of a single sand grain and zoom out to take in vast deserts. Two chapters are titled 'Sand and the Imagination' and chronicle how sand has influenced our thinking, from Archimedes' "The Sand Reckoner" to art and literature inspired by sand. This is sand for the sand enthusiast - but also sand for anyone who has sat on a beach and built sandcastles, or let dry sand drift through their fingers.
The book is well written, makes an apparently dull subject interesting and goes places you really wouldn't imagine. Welland's writing is a touch flowery, but generally good.
It also points out the way to "arenophiles"; or the hobby of collecting sand.
Yes, it's a good, readable book, but you might have trouble start reading about such a "futile" subject.
Well, we got past that.
"Sand is matter ground by the infinity of time.
It makes one mindful of eternity.
Sand is matter, which has been transformed and has almost become liquid and spiritual."
Marc Van de Velde