Do you know silica, the tetrahedra of silicon and oxygen constituting the crystals of New Agers and the desiccant in a box of new shoes? It's no mere mundane mineral. As chemically reacting silicate rocks, silica set off the chain of events known as the origin of life. As biomineralized opal, it is the cell wall, skeleton, spicules, and scales of organisms ornamenting numerous lobes of the tree of life. Cryptocrystalline silica made into stone tools helped drive the evolution of our hands and our capability for complex grammar, music, and mathematics. As quartz crystals, silica is impressively electric and ubiquitous in modern technology (think sonar, radios, telephones, ultrasound, and cheap but precise watches). Silica is inescapable when we take a drink or mow the lawn and it has already started to save the Earth from the carbon dioxide we're spewing into the atmosphere. This book tells these scientific tales and more, to give dear, modest silica its due.
Christina De La Rocha
Christina De La Rocha is a Visiting Scientist at the Department of Geology at Lund University, Sweden. She has previously been a Lecturer in Earth Sciences (University of Cambridge, UK), Senior Scientist (Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research, Germany), and Professor of Marine Science (Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France). She has co-edited a previous book (Work Meets Life: Exploring the Integrative Study of Work in Living Systems) and started to write short science fiction (Pleistocene Brains).
Daniel Conley is Professor of Biogeochemistry (Lund University, Sweden), Wallenberg Scholar, and Pew Fellow.
1. Introduction.- 2. The Origin of Life Was Brought to You in Part by Silicate Rocks.- 3. The Making of Humankind: Silica Lends a Hand (and Maybe a Brain). - 4. Mystical Crystals of Silica.- 5. Glass Houses.- 6. Chicks Need Silica, Too.- 7. Of Fields, Phytoliths, and Hippo Poo.- 8. Silica, Be Dammed!.- 9. No Such Thing as Normal.- 10. Geoengineering, aka Silica to Save the World.