An Ocean of Air: Why the Wind Blows and Other Mysteries of the Atmosphere

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Aug 4, 2008 - Science - 288 pages
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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.
 

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An ocean of air: why the wind blows and other mysteries of the atmosphere

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Beginning with a gripping prolog that recalls an air force captain's daring parachute jump from the edge of space, science writer Walker (Snowball Earth ) chronicles the lives and work of scientists ... Read full review

Contents

Sheltering Sky
127
Epilogue
232
Acknowledgments
236
Suggestions for Further Reading
239
Endnotes
247
Index
262
Back Flap
273
Back Cover
274
Spine
275
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

GABRIELLE WALKER has a PhD in chemistry from Cambridge University and has taught at both Cambridge and Princeton universities. She is a consultant to New Scientist, contributes frequently to BBC Radio, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. She is also the author of four books, including An Ocean of Air and Antarctica. She lives in London.

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