The Planet in a Pebble by Jan Zalasiewicz

The Planet in a Pebble: A journey into Earth's deep history - Jan Zalasiewicz

TITLE:  The Planet in a Pebble


AUTHOR:  Jan Zalasiewicz




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780199645695




“Take a pebble.  A slate pebble, say, from a beach in Wales.  Look at its rich grey, cut by veins of white quartz.  Look closely.  There are other markings too…”


The Planet in a Pebble is the story of the Earth as determined from a single pebble, from the depth of time and across the far reaches of space to its current existence.  The many events in the Earth’s past that can be deciphered from the subject pebble include:  the Big-Bang;  solar system creation; planet creation; volcanic eruptions; magnetic fields, the lives and deaths of extinct organic species;  the nature of long-vanished oceans;  transformations in the depth of the earth;  the creation of fool’s gold and of oil; and tectonics. 


Jan Zalasiewicz demonstrates, in an accessible and lyrical manner, how geologists reach deep into the Earth's past by forensic analysis of even the tiniest amounts of mineral matter to discover aspects of Earth’s history.   However, while the writing style is entertaining and accessible, there is some technical vocabulary that may be confusing for non-geologists, but this can’t be helped in a book like this.  None of this technical vocabulary is incomprehensible with a bit of application of grey matter.


The author shows how many stories are crammed into each and every pebble around us, no matter how ordinary the pebble.  But this pebble is also a part of the Earth’s amazing journey through time.  Taking a look at the history of the Earth by what can be told by a single pebble is an unusual and novel method for a science book that I rather enjoyed.