Sand: A Journey Through Science and the Imagination book review

As geologist Welland tells us in the opening pages, ‘Sand is like beauty – we know it when we see it… but it seems difficult to describe.’

Book review, Time In
Michael Welland

3/5
Oxford University Press

As geologist Welland tells us in the opening pages, ‘Sand is like beauty – we know it when we see it… but it seems difficult to describe.’ For most people, a stretch of orange-hued granular rock particles is something they’re content to sit on. Those who like to peer more closely at the world around them, eager to learn the hows and the whys, will find myriad surprising and fascinating sandy facts in this information-dense book. From fish excrement to bomb forensics to brazil nuts, Sand telescopes in to examine every association and physical facet in minute detail, then pulls back to show how instrumental these microscopic grains are in shaping the world around us. Cities have been lost to the tempestuous nature of sand, myths about its meaning beguile romantics, and professors and engineers continue to be exasperated by sand’s unpredictability. Welland’s obvious affinity for his subject will pull the reader further in than most would naturally follow, showing that if we care to look, there are indeed entire ‘worlds to see in a grain of sand’. Sitting on a beach will never be quite the same again.

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