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

The Invention of Air is so much more than an intellectual biography of Joseph Priestley, one of the brightest stars in the 18th Century political, religious and scientific firmament. It is a spectacular demonstration of that virtue Priestley possessed in superabundance, intellectual curiosity. Priestley is less known than he should be: Among his extraordinary generation, he is rivaled only by Jefferson in his astonishing breadth of accomplishment and lasting influence. He invented the liberal arts education, wrote the first book of popular science, discovered that air was composed of several gasses necessary for combustion and life and helped found Unitarianism. Steven Johnson goes beyond tracing Priestley's remarkable life to apply a gleefully promiscuous erudition to the questions it raises: Why does a certain group in a certain place (in this case a coffee house near St. Paul's) produce an efflorescence of achievement? How does individual talent and application jostle with socioeconomic forces in the production of knowledge? Where did the energy to power the industrial and scientific revolutions come from? Steven Johnson is a master of the dazzling superimposition. For example, using network theory to understand the scientific breakthrough that allowed us to understand that all life is an interdependent web. The Invention of Air combines the digressive enlightenment of Wikipedia and an 18th century coffee house.

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$16.00
ISBN: 9781594484018
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - September 29th, 2009

A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos - Dava Sobel

It’s fitting that in her history of the cosmic re-centering from the Ptolemaic to the Copernican system, Longitude author Dava Sobel pauses in the middle of the story for a two-act play. Literally dramatizing the events surrounding the suppression and the publication, nearly 30 years after it was written, of Copernicus’s On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, A More Perfect Heaven (Walker, $25) uses the traditional tools of history and science as well as the imagination. Sobel, in both her scholarly exposition and her illuminating drama, brings to life Copernicus, the orphaned son of a copper merchant who was raised by his cleric uncle and pressured to enter the church himself, and the much younger, far-sighted mathematics professor, Rheticus, who persuaded the aged Copernicus to publish his scientific work. Also a vivid presence is 16th-century Europe, where ideas, especially new ones, were dangerous things.

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$16.00
ISBN: 9780802778949
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Walker & Company - October 16th, 2012

Brilliant - Jane Brox

Jane Brox’s Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light (Mariner, $15.95) is fascinating and compulsively readable. Brilliant is saturated with research and amazing facts about the subject, but, even more, it explains the reciprocal relationship between science and society. From the stone lamps that facilitated our first cave paintings to an overabundance of modern light that impedes our observation of the stars, Brox takes us step by step through our own history, and how our mastery of light has shaped who we are.

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$21.99
ISBN: 9780547520346
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - July 7th, 2011

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