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The Planet in a Pebble: A journey into Earth's deep history [Kindle Edition]

Jan Zalasiewicz
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is the story of a single pebble. It is just a normal pebble, as you might pick up on holiday - on a beach in Wales, say. Its history, though, carries us into abyssal depths of time, and across the farthest reaches of space.This is a narrative of the Earth's long and dramatic history, as gleaned from a single pebble. It begins as the pebble-particles form amid unimaginable violence in distal realms of the Universe, in the Big Bang and in supernova explosions and continues amid the construction of the Solar System. Jan Zalasiewicz shows the almost incredible complexity present in such a small and apparently mundane object. Many events in the Earth's ancient past can be deciphered from a pebble: volcanic eruptions;the lives and deaths of extinct animals and plants; the alien nature of long-vanished oceans; and transformations deep underground, including the creations of fool's gold and of oil.Zalasiewicz demonstrates how geologists reach deep into the Earth's past by forensic analysis of even the tiniest amounts of mineral matter. Many stories are crammed into each and every pebble around us. It may be small, and ordinary, this pebble - but it is also an eloquent part of our Earth's extraordinary, never-ending story.

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Product Description


A mind-expanding, awe inducing but friendly scientific exploration of the history (Holly Kyte, The Sunday Telegraph)

About the Author

Jan Zalasiewicz is a Lecturer in Geology at the University of Leicester, before that working at the British Geological Survey. A field geologist, palaeontologist and stratigrapher, he teaches various aspects of geology and Earth history to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and is a researcher into fossil ecosystems and environments across over half a billion years of geological time. He has published over a hundred papers in scientific journals and is the author of The Earth After Us: What legacy will humans leave in the rocks? (OUP, 2008).

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 754 KB
  • Print Length: 251 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199569703
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (23 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005QMJ4ZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #262,944 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My dad loved it! 27 Feb. 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I should probably disclose the fact that I haven't actually read this book myself (beyond a quick skim through), I bought this as a gift for my dad who is currently studying geology with the Open University. His praise for the book was so effusive, however, that I felt I should share his enthusiasm here! He thought the premise of the book was fantastic, to essentially tell the story of the earth's geology through a pebble, and he found the book thoroughly enjoyable and very informative. Obviously a book like this is not a substitute for a geology textbook, but that is part of it's strength - it is totally approachable for people with little background knowledge, without being too basic for people who have studied some geology.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Geology is fortunate in that it always seems to have attracted people who are both excellent scientists and excellent writers; who can make things clear to the layperson without insulting over-simplification. This contrasts rather strongly with disciplines like history and literature, where scholarship almost invariably goes hand in hand with unreadability. (I believe there are compulsory courses in pretentious obscurity for all humanities students at graduate school.) Of course geology does attract metetricious amateurs as well, but it's fairly easy to filter them out.

This book is one of the best on geology that I've read for ages. Starting from a pebble - cunningly chosen for its nature and location - the author takes us back in time to the beginning of the world, forward again through the geological ages and even on into the future, as the fate of pretty well every atom in the pebble is debated. It's brilliant, and you will never look at pebbles in the same way again.

One rap over the knuckles for the publisher: why does the cover (at least of the paperback edition) feature entirely the wrong kind of pebble? Does OUP never bother to check this sort of thing with the author? Cambridge UP jolly does, I can tell you.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn the history of the Earth 27 Dec. 2010
By n996
This book does not act as textbook for rock study, nor does it just describe a pebble. Instead the pebble is used as a vehicle for leading you through to show how the Earth developed over geological time. The concepts are nicely explained with just enough insight to intrigue but not too much to lose you. I guarantee you will learn something new, even if you are a in the field of geology.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book. 22 Dec. 2012
By Oolith
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Whilst it is well known that Blake saw a World in a grain of sand, here we are presented with the whole Universe in a pebble. The way in which so many fundamental geo-scientific themes are skilfully and accessibly linked to a single pebble from a Welsh beach is inspired. Whether you are a trained geologist or lay-reader, I promise that you will learn something here. Fantastic!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent explanation 26 Dec. 2012
As an amateur I read this book hoping that it would not be too technical. It is brilliant, providing a really clear explanation of the origins of the particles that make up this pebble on this beach. For the first time, it gave me the whole narrative history of what is in a stone on the beach with very accessible, though thankfully not dumbed-down, explanations. I can recommend this book to amateur geologists or general readers with an interest in the subject.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A thousand million years unfolded from a pebble 26 Jan. 2011
By Wal33
I enjoyed this book, and learnt from it. The author unfolds the far reaches of geological time in Britain as each succeeding chapter follows the ups and downs (or more exactly downs and ups) of what eventually became a smallish pebble picked up on a Welsh beach. One gets a clear idea of its changing environment, and the advanced techniques now available to a geologist. The style comes across as conversational rather than academic, and the author does not draw back from acknowledging difficulties and ongoing uncertainties. Just one minor criticism - in places, a simple diagram might have helped.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geology - Starter for 10 15 Dec. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Definitely gives you an insight in to how a pebble can show the story of the planet. An easy read (sometimes too easy if you have some knowledge of geology) but it could spark your interest if not.
A book to keep and read again.
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