Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold by David Rickard

By David Rickard

Most folks have heard of pyrite, the brassy yellow mineral generally called fool's gold. yet regardless of being the commonest sulfide at the earth's floor, pyrite's brilliant crystals have attracted a noteworthy volume of awareness from many various cultures, and its approximately exact visible visual appeal to gold has ended in stories of fraud, trickery, and claims of alchemy. Pyrite occupies a special position in human heritage: it turned an essential component of mining lore in the USA through the nineteenth century, and it has a presence in historic Sumerian texts, Greek philosophy, and medieval poetry, changing into a logo for whatever hyped up.

In Pyrite, geochemist and writer David Rickard blends simple technology and old narrative to explain the various targeted methods pyrite makes appearances in our global. He follows pyrite again during the medieval alchemists to the traditional Arab, chinese language, Indian, and Classical worlds, displaying why the mineral used to be valuable to the improvement of those a number of historical cultures. Pyrite should be tracked to the beginnings of humankind, and Rickard finds the way it contributed to the origins of our artwork and storytelling or even to our biologic improvement as people. yet pyrite has distinct medical houses to boot: the publication distills how oxidation makes fool's gold appear like a beneficial steel, and exhibits how pyrite can choke out oxygen from water, growing huge "dead zones" in our oceans. Rickard analyzes pyrite's function in production sulfuric acid, a compound used for every little thing from cleansing drains to fertilizing vegetation. Its impression extends from human evolution and the formation of societies, via technological know-how and undefined, to our figuring out of historic, sleek, and destiny earth environments. lively and obtainable, Pyrite is the 1st booklet to teach readers the background and technology of 1 of the world's such a lot attention-grabbing minerals.

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Sample text

The photomicrograph was taken with a blue filter to show the yellow gold more clearly against the normally bright, yellow-white of the pyrite grain.  A happy prospector with a handful of gold. 1 Foole’s Gold So What Do You Do? This classic opening gambit at the stereotypical drinks party always throws me. I have been a professor at a university for most of my life, so the easiest answer is that I teach. This is true, but it disguises the reality that much of my waking time has been concerned with research.

F. Blashfield. 2002. Cartier: Jacques Cartier in Search of the Northwest Passage (Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books). 21. The word Canada derives from the Huron-Iroquoi word for kanata, meaning village. It is a familiar problem for cartographers working in areas where they do not speak the language. There is said to be a South Pacific Island called “I don’t know” in the local language. 22. In fact, Canada became a significant diamond producer at the beginning of the present millennium with discoveries in the Northwest Territories.

Kranich used a special flux to refine the ore. However, a sample of this flux was stolen and analyzed separately. It turned out to be rich in precious metals. In effect, Kranich was salting the ore. So was this the source of the phrase fool’s gold as a synonym for pyrite? There is no contemporary evidence for the written usage of the phrase, and I rather think not. It seems to have been part of a series of ongoing scams at that time to sucker a society that was desperate for gold. However, it probably added to the general mythology of pyrite.

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