The Sand Age...
(Ok, I wrote this piece a little while ago and it's a bit tongue in cheek as you can probably tell. But I've always loved those 'Let's Hear It For Nickel' and 'Tin. The New Gold' films we got shown in 1st year Chemistry lessons back at school in the early 70s. Of course The Simpsons do a similar thing with the Smilin' Joe Fission promos.)
Man has lived through the Stone Age, the Iron Age and then the Bronze Age. The Buggles even spoke of the The Plastic Age. But I bring you... The Sand Age. Yes, that much maligned grainy stuff: silicon dioxide. Further to that I'd suggest that sand has propelled man's scientific evolution forward by four giant leaps. Four distinct ages of man all due to our little smiling silica friend.
The First Age of Sand is glass. Glass that was polished and made into telescopes. Galileo used telescopes to help us to see the Universe for what it was. That the Earth was no longer at it's centre. A fact that organised Religion wasn't too happy about. For some science was to become a new Religion.
The Second Age of Sand is also glass (is that cheating? No!): Glass that was again polished but this time it was used to make microscopes. Hooke who refined the microscope helped us to see the world for what it was. And guess what? Upon closer inspection it turns out that all things are the same. Living things such as animals and plants were just collections of cells. These cells are made up of bunches of molecules. And these molecules strings of atoms. So everything was made from the same stuff. Man was no longer unique. He wasn't at the centre of the world. Just part of it.
The Third Age of Sand is silicon chips. Silicon chips transformed the then slowly evolving world of electrical circuits and valves to the vibrant and fast developing world of electronics. The diode, the transistor, and then printed circuit boards came to produce wireless radios, TVs and then computers. Thanks to silicon chips computers are omnipresent. Computers have taken over the world.
The Fourth Age of Sand is fibre optics. When lasers and optical fibres came together they revolutionised communications. Sending information at the speed of light has enabled the Internet to flourish and allowed us to route voice, data and video communications to anywhere in the world at the touch of a button. Fibre optics are the world-shrinking conduit through which we communicate globally.
So ladies and gentlemen, let's here it for.... SAND!