25 April 2016

The Floating Egg, by Roger Osborne

Posted by Callan

egg A quick report today on a delightful book – The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology, by Roger Osborne. It’s a collection of pieces, some only a few sentences long, others full essays, and still others short stories that fictionalize real life events. The range of styles is extensive, but what unites them all is geology in coastal Yorkshire, England. It’s a fascinating tour. The title may seem a bit odd, but by the time you get to the end of the first meaty narrative, on alum making and the shales that crop out near Whitby, you’ll understand. Faults vs. facies are discussed, plesiosaurs galore abound in the shale, you learn about James Cook’s connection to the region, and that of William Smith. You learn about the cave where William Buckland reconstructed a hyena clan’s residence, and the meteorite strike that first demonstrated that rocks can fall from the sky. Glacial lakes (which can form when a drainage is dammed by glacial ice), ammonites, and museum politics all get attention too. It’s great fun, and very interesting. I really enjoyed reading it – and you can get a used copy on Amazon for less than a dollar! If you care about the history of geology, you should read it.