An Ocean of Air A Natural History of Atmosphere

WALKER, Gabrielle

Published by London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007.
ISBN 10: 0747581908 / ISBN 13: 9780747581901
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Hardcover, 8vo., very good condition in like dustjacket, diagrams, notes, further reading, index, 321pp. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: We don?t just live in the air; we live because of it. It?s the most miraculous substance on earth, responsible for our food, our weather, our water, and our ability to hear. In this exuberant book, gifted science writer Gabrielle Walker peels back the layers of our atmosphere with the stories of the people who uncovered its secrets:

A flamboyant Renaissance Italian discovers how heavy our air really is: The air filling Carnegie Hall, for example, weighs seventy thousand pounds.

A one-eyed barnstorming pilot finds a set of winds that constantly blow five miles above our heads.

An impoverished American farmer figures out why hurricanes move in a circle by carving equations with his pitchfork on a barn door.

A well-meaning inventor nearly destroys the ozone layer.

A reclusive mathematical genius predicts, thirty years before he?s proved right, that the sky contains a layer of floating metal fed by the glowing tails of shooting stars.

From the Inside Flap: In 1960, Captain Joseph Kittinger fell to earth from the edge of space and lived. He stepped from the basket of a gigantic helium balloon into an appalling, hostile environment which, without the protection of a pressure suit, would have simultaneously frozen his body and boiled away his blood. It is the air that Kittinger fell through that makes our lives on earth possible.

Air is about more than just breathing. Air transforms miraculously into solid food, and without it every creature on earth would starve; it wraps our planet in a blanket of warmth; radio signals bounce off a floating mirror of metal in the air to travel round the world; and the outer layer of our atmosphere soaks up flares from the sun more violent than all the world's nuclear warheads put together. In this exuberant work, Gabrielle Walker peels back the layers of our atmosphere with stories of the people who uncovered its secrets:

A flamboyant Renaissance Italian discovers how heavy our air really is: The air filling Carnegie Hall, for example, weighs seventy thousand pounds.

A one-eyed barnstorming pilot finds invisible winds [or giant rivers of air?] that blow with the force of a hurricane five miles above our heads.

An impoverished American farmer figures out why storms move in a circle by carving equations with his pitchfork on a barn door.

A well-meaning but ill-fated inventor creates wonder chemicals that nearly destroy the ozone layer (he also came up with the idea to put lead in gasoline [he did the lead first]).

A reclusive mathematical genius with a predilection for painting his toenails cherry red figures out the technology that would come to the rescue of the Titanic.

An Ocean of Air is a triumphant celebration of the fragile complexity of Earth's atmosphere and a completely engaging work of popular science.

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Title: An Ocean of Air A Natural History of ...
Publisher: London, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007.

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