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Caesar's last breath : and other true tales of history, science, and the sextillions of molecules in the air around us

Author: Sam Kean
Publisher: New York : Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company, 2018. ©2017
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : First Back Bay paperback editionView all editions and formats
Summary:
A round-the-globe journey through the periodic table explains how the air people breathe reflects the world's history, tracing the origins and ingredients of the atmosphere to explain air's role in reshaping continents, steering human progress, and powering revolutions.
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Genre/Form: Popular works
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Sam Kean
ISBN: 0316381659 9780316381659
OCLC Number: 1005552173
Description: viii, 373 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Contents: Introduction: The last breath --
I: Making air : our first four atmospheres. Earth's early air ; The exploding lake ; The devil in the air ; Welding a dangerous weapon ; The curse and blessing of oxygen ; Hotter than the Dickens --
II: Harnessing air : the human relationship with air. The wonder-working gas of delight ; Le Pétomane ; Controlled chaos ; Steeling yourself for tragedy ; Into the blue ; Night lights --
III: Frontiers : the new heavens. The fallout of fallout ; Albert Einstein and the people's fridge ; Weather wars ; Rumbles from Roswell ; Putting on alien airs.
Responsibility: Sam Kean.

Abstract:

A round-the-globe journey through the periodic table explains how the air people breathe reflects the world's history, tracing the origins and ingredients of the atmosphere to explain air's role in reshaping continents, steering human progress, and powering revolutions.

"With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second."--Publisher's description.

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