Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold

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9780190203672: Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold

Most people have heard of pyrite, the brassy yellow mineral sometimes known as fool's gold. Pyrite behaves like stone and shines like metal, and its dual nature makes it a source of both metals and sulfur. Despite being the most common sulfide mineral on the earth's surface, pyrite's bright crystals have attracted the attention of many different cultures, and its nearly identical visual appearance to gold has led to tales of fraud, trickery, and claims of alchemy. Pyrite occupies a unique place in human history: it became an integral part of mining culture in America during the 19th century, and it has a presence in ancient Sumerian texts, Greek philosophy, and medieval poetry, becoming a symbol for anything overvalued.

In Pyrite, geochemist and author David Rickard blends basic science and historical narrative to describe the many unique ways pyrite is integral to our world. He explains the basic science of oxidation, showing us why the mineral looks like gold, and inspects death zones of present oceans where pyrite-related hydrogen sulfide destroys oxygen in the waters. Rickard analyzes pyrite's role in manufacturing sulfuric acid and discusses the significant appearance of the mineral in literature, history, and the development of societies. The mineral's influence extends from human evolution and culture, through science and industry, to our understanding of ancient, modern, and future earth environments. Energetic and accessible, Pyrite is the first book to show readers the history and science of a mineral that helped make the modern world.

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About the Author:


David Rickard is Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University. His writings have appeared in numerous journals, including Chemical Geology, Geochemica Et Cosmochimica Acta, and Earth and Planetary Science.

Review:


"A unique combination of historical narrative (Rickard includes numerous informative anecdotes) and scientific treatise, the book includes informative notes at the end of each chapter. The accessible prose makes the book invaluable for scientists and nonscientists alike. Essential." --CHOICE


"The depth and breadth of the author's knowledge, as well as his humor, makes this book a delightful read. ... David Rickard's several decades' worth of original research experience and the associated knowledge he has accumulated are condensed in this highly entertaining and very informative book. I recommend it to anyone interested in geochemistry, in mineralogy, and in science generally." --Mihály Pósfai, Elements


"Rickard's book is an essential corrective to pyrite's fool's-gold reputation." --New Scientist


"Pyrite is aimed at the keen scientist and is the type of book you can dip in and out of. It is very well researched, and gives a unique viewpoint on human and geological history on one mineral." --Chemistry World


"The author is a professed expert in the field of sulfur compounds, and that knowledge comes through in every aspect of the book. He makes a strong case for pyrite being one of the most central compounds to human history as well as to the history of our planet... A highly instructive book delivered by a foremost expert in the field." - LIBRARY JOURNAL


"In a remarkable feat of alchemy, David Rickard has transformed a common mineral into literary gold. Science, poetry, history, and folklore blend in this tale of pyrite -- a magical substance that illuminates our planet's co-evolving geosphere and biosphere. --Robert M. Hazen, Carnegie Institution for Science and author of The Story of Earth.


"Popular books about minerals containing more than pretty pictures are rare, so this is a welcome addition. It may seem strange to focus on just one mineral but pyrite more than justifies this distinction by its importance historically and culturally, as well as in key areas of science and technology. Rich in detail and written in an engaging style, this book is a rare example of a work that successfully bridges the gap between the expert mineralogist and lay person or beginning student. It has located and exploited a rich vein of 'fool's gold.' --David J. Vaughan, Professor of Mineralogy, University of Manchester


"The amount of information enshrined in this book is impressive. ... [T]his is a fascinating book that ... will certainly reveal a whole unexpected world to the general audience and serve as an appetizer for those with a solid scientific background..." --Acta Crystallographica Section B


"Rickard repeatedly and convincingly argues that pyrite has been misunderstood. It's not a shiny and worthless fake. Instead, it's 'the mineral that made the modern world.'" --The Behemoth


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Descripción Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Most people have heard of pyrite, the brassy yellow mineral commonly known as fool s gold. But despite being the most common sulfide on the earth s surface, pyrite s bright crystals have attracted a noteworthy amount of attention from many different cultures, and its nearly identical visual appearance to gold has led to tales of fraud, trickery, and claims of alchemy. Pyrite occupies a unique place in human history: it became an integral part of mining lore in America during the 19th century, and it has a presence in ancient Sumerian texts, Greek philosophy, and medieval poetry, becoming a symbol for anything overvalued. In Pyrite, geochemist and author David Rickard blends basic science and historical narrative to describe the many unique ways pyrite makes appearances in our world. He follows pyrite back through the medieval alchemists to the ancient Arab, Chinese, Indian, and Classical worlds, showing why the mineral was central to the development of these various ancient cultures. Pyrite can be tracked to the beginnings of humankind, and Rickard reveals how it contributed to the origins of our art and storytelling and even to our biologic development as humans.But pyrite has unique scientific properties as well: the book distills how oxidation makes fool s gold look like a precious metal, and shows how pyrite can choke out oxygen from water, creating large dead zones in our oceans. Rickard analyzes pyrite s role in manufacturing sulfuric acid, a compound used for everything from cleaning drains to fertilizing crops. Its influence extends from human evolution and the formation of societies, through science and industry, to our understanding of ancient, modern, and future earth environments. Energetic and accessible, Pyrite is the first book to show readers the history and science of one of the world s most fascinating minerals. Nº de ref. de la librería AOP9780190203672

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Descripción Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Estado de conservación: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Most people have heard of pyrite, the brassy yellow mineral commonly known as fool s gold. But despite being the most common sulfide on the earth s surface, pyrite s bright crystals have attracted a noteworthy amount of attention from many different cultures, and its nearly identical visual appearance to gold has led to tales of fraud, trickery, and claims of alchemy. Pyrite occupies a unique place in human history: it became an integral part of mining lore in America during the 19th century, and it has a presence in ancient Sumerian texts, Greek philosophy, and medieval poetry, becoming a symbol for anything overvalued. In Pyrite, geochemist and author David Rickard blends basic science and historical narrative to describe the many unique ways pyrite makes appearances in our world. He follows pyrite back through the medieval alchemists to the ancient Arab, Chinese, Indian, and Classical worlds, showing why the mineral was central to the development of these various ancient cultures. Pyrite can be tracked to the beginnings of humankind, and Rickard reveals how it contributed to the origins of our art and storytelling and even to our biologic development as humans. But pyrite has unique scientific properties as well: the book distills how oxidation makes fool s gold look like a precious metal, and shows how pyrite can choke out oxygen from water, creating large dead zones in our oceans. Rickard analyzes pyrite s role in manufacturing sulfuric acid, a compound used for everything from cleaning drains to fertilizing crops. Its influence extends from human evolution and the formation of societies, through science and industry, to our understanding of ancient, modern, and future earth environments. Energetic and accessible, Pyrite is the first book to show readers the history and science of one of the world s most fascinating minerals. Nº de ref. de la librería AOP9780190203672

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