About the blog: What Things Are Made Of


The United States relies on imports for dozens of commodities in everyday use. Often enough, that reliance is 100%. In this book I aim to provide awareness of the hidden geology and mineralogy behind common things, and to develop an appreciation for the global resource distribution that underpins our society. While concerns about oil import reliance are in the news every day, our needs for other minerals are comparable and are typically unknown even to technologically aware Americans.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mineral commodities: more information

If you find the topics in this blog interesting, I’d also refer you to two important resources.  Earth Magazine (formerly Geotimes) is a publication of the American Geological Institute. Although it is a trade magazine aimed at geoscientists, its articles are highly readable and informative. There’s a feature called “Mineral Resource of the Month” usually written by mineral commodity specialists with the U.S. Geological Survey. 

To go straight to the source—where I get the figures that let me say we import this much of that mineral from China or wherever—visit the USGS Mineral Commodities Summaries pages.  The data there serve as starting points for What Things Are Made Of. Then I explore questions like “Why does China have such large rare-earth deposits?” or “How did Missouri’s lead ore form?” and “What was the connection between the alum trade and the Pazzi Conspiracy in Renaissance Italy?”

My goal with What Things Are Made Of is to connect the chromium in your stainless-steel fork to its geological origins, its role in history, and its place in a complex, global network of interdependent producers and consumers. And to try to do that for hundreds of things around us every day.

1 comment:

EcoRover said...

Dick, congratulations on establishing your blog, and good luck in finding a publisher. Look forward to reading your work.