An Ocean of Air
by Gabrielle Walker (9780747581901)

An Ocean of Air
Gabrielle Walker
Release Date: 01 May 2007
Format: Hardback
Pages: 288
Category: Popular Science
ISBN: 9780747581901
ISBN-10: 0747581908

In 1960 Joe Kittinger fell to earth from the edge of space and lived. Inside a pressure suit, attached to a huge helium balloon, Kittinger freefell from where the earth's atmosphere met space - an appalling, hostile, environment that would freeze us, and burn us and boil us away. It is the air that Kittinger fell through that makes our lives on earth possible - the atmosphere is made up of enfolding layers of air which protect us so completely that we don't even realise the dangers of space lurking just twenty miles above us. We don't just live in the air, we live because of it.

Gabrielle Walker's new book illuminates this most extraordinary and yet most underrated substance on earth: air. Thin air miraculously transforms into food; our atmosphere soaks up flares from the sun that are more violent than a nuclear explosion; the air wraps our planet in a blanket of warmth; radio signals bounce off a layer of floating metal in the air.

An Ocean of Air reveals the story of how humanity came to understand earth's atmosphere through the stories of the people who discovered the functions of each of its layers: the Italian Renaissance scientist, disciple of Galileo, who discovered that we live at the bottom of a dense ocean of air; an arrogant Frenchman who had only just discovered how air brings us life, when the guillotine brought him death; a hapless 1920s inventor who inadvertently created chemicals that could punch a hole in the sky.

After you've read this book, you will never take air for granted again.

AUD $39.95

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