Written to engage an amateur as well as a trained professional, Michael Welland’s Sand: The Never-ending Story covers everything that is connected with the topic of sand. From composition and size to usage, sand is the key subject of Welland’s insightfully written book. A geologist, Welland not only scrutinizes sand through the lens of science but provides this ubiquitous substance with an anthropological perspective. By doing so, Welland investigates the collective behaviors of sand, comparing the movement of sand on the planet to the migrations of various tribes. Welland also outlines the weathering and erosion of sand, pointing out the function of sand scales and the interaction of sand and water. By adding quotes from writers like William Blake, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens, Welland manages to give his subject a universal and emotional appeal. In following such famous geologists as Chester K. Wentworth and Johan August Udden, Welland gives credibility to his study of sand. From the microscopic to the global scale, Welland’s Sand: The Never-ending Story provides amateurs and professionals with a detailed picture of sand in the natural and human-made worlds, focusing on its symbolism and imagery.
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The way that sand affects the lives of people is described in great detail throughout the book, beginning with the role of sand as a valuable resource and concluding with its use in the human-made world. Chapter 9 of Welland’s book provides an in-depth description of how sand is a strategic ingredient in the everyday lives of people. It becomes clear that not only does sand provide humanity with many basic foods and pharmaceutical items, but it also plays a vital part in the construction of buildings and windows. In addition, sand is one of the major components that enable the information age and the availability of computers. Quartz, in particular, accounts for the accessibility of computer chips since it is a semiconducting material. Besides utilitarian functions, Welland also describes how artists and writers use sand in their imagery. According to Welland, who draws on the imagery of William Blake and Ralph Waldo Emerson, sand is both a symbol of something infinite and an image of evanescence and fragility. It appears that sand is not only an essential resource in the modern world but also a source of beauty and inspiration.
Personally, this book has revealed to me many interesting insights about sand. Perhaps one of the most striking pieces of information was about the ubiquitous nature of sand. Even such commonplace materials as sugar and salt could be rightly defined as sand since the definition of this material depends on its size rather than its composition. For instance, the dunes at White Sands National Monument are made of grains of sand very much like salt. Another interesting fact connected to sand is the practice of collecting sand by sand lovers from around the world, leading to an array of sand collections with a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Welland likens the vibrant beauty of these sand collections to the palettes of landscape artists. Finally, the therapeutic effect of playing with sand is also of some interest. It appears that playing with sand is a genuine form of therapy that has beneficial properties for both adults and children. With its colored plates and multifaceted approach, Welland’s Sand: The Never-ending Story will inform and entertain both amateurs and professionals on anything connected to the topic of sand.