The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America

The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America

by Steven Johnson
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Overview

The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America by Steven Johnson

From the bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From, The Ghost Map and Everything Bad Is Good for You, a new national bestseller: the “exhilarating”( Los Angeles Times) story of Joseph Priestley, “a founding father long forgotten”(Newsweek) and a brilliant man who embodied the relationship between science, religion, and politics for America's Founding Fathers.

In The Invention of Air, national bestselling author Steven Johnson tells the fascinating story of Joseph Priestley—scientist and theologian, protégé of Benjamin Franklin, friend of Thomas Jefferson—an eighteenth-century radical thinker who played pivotal roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the discovery of oxygen, the uses of oxygen, scientific experimentation, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the intellectual development of the United States. As he did so masterfully in The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson uses a dramatic historical story to explore themes that have long engaged him: innovative strategies, intellectual models, and the way new ideas emerge and spread, and the environments that foster these breakthroughs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440685316
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/26/2008
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 536,168
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the author of the national bestsellers Everything Bad Is Good for You and Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life, as well as Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software and Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate.

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Invention of Air 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
aboyerAB More than 1 year ago
A great story of one man's quest to use his love for science as a way to rationalize life and faith. Simply fascinating.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Have you ever had an intuition or hunch about something? It felt like an epiphany or lightning bulb shedding clarity and significance on all around it, didn't it? Well, Joseph Priestly, the venerable scientist celebrated in this amazing book, would say it really wasn't literally such a momentous event!

Joseph Priestly insisted, after his early years of learning and experiment, that natural philosophy or learning is "...a story of progress, a rising staircase of enlightenment, with each new innovation building on the last." So consciously or unconsciously, you've previously been tinkering or leaning about someone else's tinkering with the ideas behind your "aha" moment. Why is this so important? Why is it that certain centuries produce a wealth of discovery, inventions and new ideas so far beyond the wildest imaginations of the time? How is that cultural change parallels scientific growth periods?

In Steven Johnson's latest book, the reader gets to explore the world of Joseph Priestly, his American founder peers, and the Royal Society to which he belonged that led to world-changing inventions involving electricity and oxygen. Opening with a mind-boggling chapter on the vortex of waterspouts, Benjamin Franklin, Priestly and others came to realize the presence of the "Gulf Stream," which changed shipping and our understanding of weather forever. Priestly then wrote his first book, The Rudiments of English Grammar, and began exploring the phenomena of what really conducts electricity. It is to Priestly's credit that he was willing to admit that only part of his experiments were important and that often more was learned through admitted mistakes. On and on this adventurous account moves, with the reader enjoying Priestly's invention of soda water, his experimentation with "circulation" being more important than a vacuum, his true discovery of oxygen and its connection to the entire ecosystem, and so much more.

But Priestly's life was not all glory and honor. Funding was initially a huge problem eventually solved by subscriptions to his work. His writing of History of the Corruptions of Christianity and his defense of same is absolutely fascinating reading, a stirring attack on churches that altered the message of Jesus Christ to form churches and ideas radically different from those of the man whose life irrevocably changed history and religion. The founder of Unitarians, Priestly faced English ostracism and eventually left England for America, a land where he found more acceptance but also criticism for his unorthodox sermons and beliefs.

America was founded upon great ideas that often come across as dusty, boring statements or papers. Steven Johnson's The Invention of Air is a very readable and honest account of the men, ideas, revolutionary moments, inventions and debates that are an integral part of the freedom, inventiveness and greatness exemplified in this simple but profound man, Joseph Priestly, and his American patriot peers! A superb, exciting and memorable addition to the understanding of science, politics and history in the late 1700s and early 1800s!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on February 12, 2009
Spindle More than 1 year ago
An interesting history of Joseph Priestley, his approach to science, his impact, and his relationship to American figures such as Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson. It tells the science in a general way that does not require a science background. It is not a full biography; the author has selected for the most interesting information.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From start to finsh wonderful. Story of one the most influential men among our founding fathers. Science, politics,and religeon. Recommend to any scientist or history buff.
Emilio Zertuche More than 1 year ago
quite a page turner! it is absolutely amazing
ChrisFredda More than 1 year ago
Steven Johnson again shows his skills with research and his amazingly astute insight in this chronicle of the life and achievements of Jospeh Priestly and the effect he had not only on the scientific community of his time, but also the religious and political transformations occuring throughout Europe and the newly forming United States.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, insightful, easy read
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