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By Steven Johnson

Bestselling writer Steven Johnson recounts—in unbelievable, multidisciplinary fashion—the tale of the intense guy who embodied the connection among technology, faith, and politics for America’s Founding Fathers

The Invention of Air is a publication of world-changing principles wrapped round a compelling narrative, a narrative of genius and violence and friendship in the course of sweeping ancient switch that provokes us to recast our knowing of the Founding Fathers.

It is the tale of Joseph Priestley—scientist and theologian, protégé of Benjamin Franklin, pal of Thomas Jefferson—an eighteenth-century radical philosopher who performed pivotal roles within the invention of surroundings technology, the invention of oxygen, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the highbrow improvement of the U.S.. And it's a tale that in simple terms Steven Johnson, acclaimed juggler of disciplines and provocative principles, can do justice to.

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Thus the air ing. Acyde of negative reinforcement arose: the lack of a dear problem pump not only helped justify the study of air itself, but also enabled kept the questions at bay, and the lack ofquestions left the problems as one of the great spectades ofearly Enlightenment science. invisible as the air itself As Priestley once wrote of Newton , "[he] had very little knowledge of air, so he had few doubts concerning it" The following engraving shows the legendary dem on stration of the Magdeburg Sphere, which von Guericke presented before Ferdi- R"", and Nightshad' nand 1II to m uch amazem ent: two eigh t-horse team s attempt-and, Priestley was two centuries too early to see the molecules bouncing spectacularly, fail-to separate the two hemispheres that have been off one ano ther in his beer glasses .

Johnson This is a standard pattern in the history of science: when tools for 68 m easuring increase their precision by orders ofmagnitude, new paradigms often emerge, because the newfound accuracy reveals anomalies tha t had gone undetected. One ofthe crucial benefits of increa sing the accuracy of scales is that it suddenly became possible to measure things that had almost no weight. Black's discovery of fixed air, and its perplexing mixture with common air, would have been impossible without the state-of-the-art scales he em ployed in his experim ents .

It purifies it by distillation, when it raises hadn't dwelt on the ramifi cations of his mint experime nt as fully as it in vapours , and lets it fall in rain; and farther still by filtra- on e would expect. But given the prominence that it plays in th e let- tion, when, keeping it fluid, it suffers that rain to percolate the ters around this period, it seems entirely reasonable to assume that earth. We knew before, that putrid anim al substances were Priestley gave th e mint experime nt cen ter stage during Franklin's converted into sweet vegetables, when mixed with the earth, visit.

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