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An Ocean of Air: A Natural History of the Atmosphere Hardcover – 2 Apr 2007

4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; 1st Edition Uk edition (2 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747581908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747581901
  • Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 22.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Ocean of Air is a fascinating book. The subject is hot, the science is cool, and Gabrielle Walker's style is lighter than air. Warmly recommended.' Jonathan Weiner, author of THE BEAK OF THE FINCH and MY BROTHER'S KEEPER 'Who knew air could be so interesting? Like the scientific mavericks she profiles, Gabrielle Walker had the freshness of vision to realize that within its presumed-nothingness lay the most fascinating, profound revelations about life on earth. This is science writing at its best: clear, witty, relevant, unbelievably interesting, and just plain great.' Mary Roach, author of STIFF

Synopsis

In 1960, Captain Joseph Kittinger fell to earth from the edge of space and survived. 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. And yet, it is the air that Kittinger fell through that makes our lives on earth possible. We not only live in the air, we live because of it. And air is about much more than just breathing. At ground level, 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.

Gabrielle Walker traces a journey of groundbreaking scientific discovery, from the Italian Renaissance scientist Torricelli, disciple of Galileo, who realised that we live at the bottom of a dense ocean of air, to the West Virginian farmhand William Ferrel, who unlocked the secrets of the trade winds by making calculations with a pitchfork on the back of a barn door. Then, there is the hapless 1920s inventor Thomas Midgley, who when trying to solve a refrigeration problem inadvertently created chemicals that punched a hole in the sky, and the extraordinary American discovery at the height of the Cold War that space itself is radioactive. "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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22 January 2015
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
28 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
7 October 2007
Format: Hardcover
One person found this helpful
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23 January 2015
Format: Paperback
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15 August 2009
Format: Paperback
2 people found this helpful
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13 February 2012
Format: Paperback
15 October 2007
Format: Hardcover
10 people found this helpful
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9 August 2008
Format: Paperback
One person found this helpful
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