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Meteorite: Nature and Culture

Maria Golia



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Reaktion Books
01 January 2016
Mathematics & Sciences; Popular astronomy & space
Series: Earth
Meteorites are among the rarest objects on Earth, yet they have left a pervasive mark on our planet and civilization. Arriving amidst thunderous blasts and flame-streaked skies, meteorites were once thought to be messengers from the gods, embodiments of the divine. Prized for their outlandish qualities, meteorites are a collectible, a commodity, objects of art and artists' desires and a literary muse. 'Meteorite hunting' is an adventurous, lucrative profession for some, and an addictive hobby for thousands of others.

Meteorite: Nature and Culture is a unique, richly illustrated cultural history of these ancient and mysterious phenomena. Taking in a wide range of sources Maria Golia pays homage to the scientists, scholars and aficionados who have scoured the skies and combed the Earth's most unforgiving reaches for meteorites, contributing to a body of work that situates our planet and ourselves within the vastness of the Universe.

Appealing to collectors and hobbyists alike, as well as any lovers of nature, marvel and paradox, this book offers an accessible overview of what science has learned from meteorites, beginning with the scientific community's reluctant embrace of their interplanetary origins, and explores their power to reawaken that precious, yet near-forgotten human trait - the capacity for awe.
By:   Maria Golia
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   408g
ISBN:   9781780234977
ISBN 10:   178023497X
Series:   Earth
Pages:   240
Publication Date:   01 January 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Maria Golia is the author of Cairo: City of Sand (Reaktion Books, 2004) and Photography and Egypt (Reaktion Books, 2009). Living in Egypt, she is a fellow of the London-based Institute of Ecotechnics and writes about historical and contemporary issues related to urban, social and outer space.

Reviews for Meteorite: Nature and Culture

'In Meteorite we are introduced to the science and culture surrounding the rocks from space that we know as meteorites but that were once looked upon as being messengers from the gods. In this well-researched and copiously-illustrated book the author looks back in time to discover how the arrival of these celestial visitors induced a sense of awe and wonder in our ancestors ... Golia introduces us to a large number of meteorite aficionados and scholars, hunters and collectors, including the meteorite enthusiast and former punk rock musician Geoffrey Notkin who, we are informed, once said that 'Like the sound of the ocean in a seashell, meteorites carry within them a faint murmur of infinity'. Notkin's words sum up the fascination we have with meteorites, a fascination which this book brings across very well.' - 'Book of the Month', BBC Sky at Night Magazine; 'This is an extremely well-researched book, with its focus away from the scientific details, and squarely on the place of meteorites in various aspects of human culture. Despite a lifetime's interest in astronomy, I hadn't previously seen most of the images beautifully reproduced on the very high quality paper. I found the depiction of meteorites and their craters within artworks, especially those by tribespeople, fascinating ... the book renewed my interest in meteorites in general - a success for any book ... there are plenty of amusing and well-told stories in there, too.' - Astronomy Now; '[an] enjoyable survey ... shows that meteorites still occupy an anomalous space where science, myth, art, commerce and apocalypse collide ... Meteorite is an object of beauty, with the sumptuous colour illustration we have come to expect from Reaktion's natural history monographs. The images include ancient artefacts, pulp illustrations, ethnographic tableaux and stunning aerial photography of craters, but focus primarily on the meteorites: portraits that reveal the patterns sculpted by heat and g-forces in their passage through the atmosphere, and precision-cut magnified sections that turn their fine-grained structures into kaleidoscopic works of art.' - Fortean Times; 'Golia blends the magic of meteorites across time and ownership. The book is filled with stories, example, and exceptional pictures. At no time does it go overboard into heavy science which makes it a great read for the casual meteorite aficionado ... In fact the book is filled with the litterati and glitterati of meteorites, both intellectual and commercial. The tales of science are as thrilling to uncover as the auctions stories. Whether poetry, paintings, or pop culture, Golia drills home the interaction between everything meteorite in a precious tome of some 208 pages.' - Martin Horejsi, Meteorite Times; 'Maria Golia has brought to her truly wonderful subject a matching spirit of wonder, and has explored the science and magic, art and uses of lightning rock , iron rain , and sacred betyls, with passion, wit - and fiery compression.' - Marina Warner, author, mythographer 'This is a beautifully written, well-researched book that looks at the science, history, and social aspect of meteorites. Here is the story of stones from space, and I recommend it to anyone interested in these fascinating bits of other worlds which have landed here on Earth.' - Christopher P. McKay, NASA Planetary Scientist

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