Friday, May 20, 2011

Earth Science Made Simple

Earth Science Made Simple
© 2004 Edward F. Albin
224 pages

Earth science! Fun!  I enjoy reading these little guides as introductions to a subject or refreshers on it, and Earth Science Made Simple fits the bill.  Four separate sections cover Geology, Oceanography, Meteorology, and Planetary Science, the last of which applies the principles observed on Earth to understand  the other planets in the solar system.  The book begins with the basics, introducing geology with a primer on atoms and elements. The authors frequently remind readers of material they've surveyed already, when new material is building upon it, mitigating the occasional need to thumb back through the book. The introductions serve the text well, connecting sections together, and the text is replete with illustrations, most of which are helpful. Only one, a list of the planets, seemed more distracting than helpful: while the authors make it clear the planets are not drawn to scale,  they do depict the planets as varying in size (Jupiter being large compared to the rest, Pluto being tiny) -- which will throw readers off when they see Venus (almost as large as Earth) as being drawn slightly smaller than Mercury!

Because this is an introduction to the subject,  more detailed explanations are rare. Were they present, the book would be much larger.  While there are no end-of-chapter quizzes for the reader to test comprehension, the sections open with a glossary of terms that you should be able to identify at section's end, and there are numerous little practical experiments suggested in sidebars that readers can use to see principles at work for themselves -- like witnessing crystal growth after  introducing distilled Epsom salt into a pie pan coated in black construction paper, then leaving it in direct sunlight.  This lives up to the strong expectations I have of the Made Simple series.

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