Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 550s

556: Fieldwork by Christopher Scholz


556.883. Scholz, Christopher. Fieldwork: A Geologist’s Memoir of the Kalahari. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997. 190 pp. ISBN 0-691-01226-1.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 550: Earth sciences (geology)
  • 556: Earth sciences of Africa
  • 556.8: Earth sciences of Southern Africa and the Republic of South Africa
  • 556.88: Earth sciences of Namibia, Botswana. Lesotho, and Swaziland
  • 556.883: Earth science of Botswana and the Kalahari Desert

In 1974, Dr. Christopher Scholz, a newly-minted professor of geology at Columbia University, received a rather interesting and unexpected phone call. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization called to ask him if he would want to serve as an earthquake consultant in Botswana. The U.N. was trying to run an agricultural project in the Okavango Delta and wanted to know what, if any, threat was posed by earthquakes changing the way that the delta flows and drains. A simple enough project, everyone thought. As Scholz writes in Fieldwork, “Africa is a continent like no other.” And his work there would be like no other as well.

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550: The Map That Changed the World by Simon Winchester


550.92: Winchester, Simon. The Map That Changed the World: William Smith and the Birth of Modern Geology. New York: Harper, 2009. 301 pp. ISBN 978-0-06-176790-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Science
  • 550: General works on earth science
  • +92: Biography

The world is an ever-shifting, ever-changing place. Millions upon millions of years of plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and eroding forces have brought to the earth its current form. Only recently have we been able to figure out just how it happened. In many ways, we owe a lot of our current geological knowledge to a coal mine surveyor from Oxfordshire, William Smith. Simon Winchester’s The Map That Changed the World is look into a the life and work of a man whose debts landed him in jail, but whose work has left us indebted to him.

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557: Geologic History of Florida by Albert C. Hine


557.59: Hine, Albert C. Geologic History of Florida: Major Events that Formed the Sunshine State. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press, 2013. 217 pp. ISBN 978-0-8130-4421-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Pure Science
  • 550: Earth sciences and geology
  • 557: Earth science of North America
  • 557.5: Southeastern United States (South Atlantic states)
  • 557.59: Florida

Geology is fast becoming one of my favorite sciences to read about. The explosive processes, coupled with the sheer massiveness of the timescales and the delicateness of the measurements involved, makes this field ripe for storytelling. Continents bond together and then tear apart, forming new ones so that the process can repeat. Even now, Earth’s continental plates are moving toward one another and will form a new landmass over the next ten million or so years. Albert C. Hine’s Geologic History of Florida takes the reader on a tour of the entire global history of how the tiny state of Florida came to be formed and how that reshapes our understanding of this seemingly quiet landscape.

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555: Colliding Continents by Mike Searle


555.496: Searle, Mike. Colliding Continents: A Geological Exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram, and Tibet. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2013. 365 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-965300-3.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 500: Pure Science
  • 550: Earth sciences
  • 555: Earth sciences of Asia
  • +496: Nepal

Well, folks, this is my 200th book for this project. I knew it was coming up, so I immediately dove into this one right after yesterday’s book and I’ve been fascinated by it all day. I have a soft spot in my heart for science books, so I’m glad this one landed where it did. 200 books in 473 days seems a bit speedy, but it can be done if you dedicate yourself to the task at hand. I’m a little over one-fifth of the way through this project, which means I should finish up somewhere around Fall 2017. All the Deweys in under six years? One can only hope…

New on to today’s book.

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551: Defining the Wind by Scott Huler

551.518: Huler, Scott. Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry. New York: Crown Publishers, 2004. 250 pp. ISBN 1-4000-4884-2.

Dewey Construction:

  • 500: Natural sciences and mathematics
  • 550: Earth sciences
  • 551: Geology, hydrology, meteorology
  • 551.5: Meteorology
  • 551.51: Composition, regions, dynamics of atmosphere
  • 551.518: Wind

In 1983, Scott Huler was working as a copy editor and happened upon a bit of poetry in the Merriam-Webster Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. It was a scale for measuring the force of wind, with numbered level from 0 to 12. Each level has a name for the type of wind, a rough speed measurement, and then a description that infuses science with poetry at a level that is almost awe-inspiring.

It was the Beaufort Wind Scale.

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