Fifty Minerals That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Minerals That Changed the Course of History

Book - 2012
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Baker & Taylor
A guide to fifty metals, alloys, rocks, and organic minerals that have impacted history discusses the use of plutonium to power the Voyager space probes and the possiblity that Napoleon was poisoned by wallpaper containing arsenic.

Firefly Books Ltd

Praise for Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History:
It's the sort of book that has you saying 'Wow, listen to this...' and 'Did you know...' to companions over and over.
--The Globe and Mail

Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the minerals that have had the greatest impact on human civilization. These are the materials used from the Stone Age to the First and Second Industrial Revolutions to the Nuclear Age and include metals, ores, alloys, salts, rocks, sodium, mercury, steel and uranium. The book also includes minerals used as currency, as jewelry and as lay and religious ornamentation when combined with gem minerals like diamonds, amber, coral, and jade.

Entries are organized by name and considered for their influence in four categories: Industrial, Cultural, Commercial and Scientific. More than 200 elegant drawings, photographs, paintings and excerpts from literature highlight the concise text.

Examples of the fifty minerals are:

  • Diamonds: Did a necklace ordered by Louis XV precipitate the French Revolution?
  • Sulphur: The biblical brimstone now used in organic farming.
  • Clay: The oldest ceramic object is not a cooking pot or drinking bowl, but a statuette.
  • Arsenic: Was Napoleon murdered while imprisoned on the island of St. Helena?
  • Coal: The Romans invented the first central heating system.
  • Saltpeter: China's fourth "Great Invention" was perhaps not so great after all.
  • Salt: Once used as currency, we give it little thought today.
  • Jade: The Chinese fabric of "pajamas for eternity."

Ubiquitous or rare, the minerals described in Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History have been fundamental to human progress, for good or evil. Many are familiar--the aluminum can we drink from, the car we drive, the jewelry we wear. They can be poisons, medicines or weapons, but wherever found and however used, their importance can be easily overlooked. This attractive reference gives us fascinating insight into our undeniable dependence on minerals.

Publisher: Richmond Hill, Ont. : Firefly Books, c2012
ISBN: 9781554079841
Branch Call Number: 549.09 CHA
Characteristics: 223 p. :,ill. (some col.), ports. (some col.) :,24 cm.


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Jan 17, 2017

Fun to read, fun to learn stuff.

Dec 29, 2016

A fascinating topic, but the text is marred by the author sometimes talking about himself rather than the relevance of the mineral in history. Thorough index and further reading guide.

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