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Caesar's last breath : decoding the secrets of the air around us / Sam Kean.

Kean, Sam, author. (Author).
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Available copies

  • 2 of 2 copies available at LARL/NWRL Consortium.
  • 2 of 2 copies available at Lake Agassiz Regional Library. (Show preferred library)

Current holds

0 current holds with 2 total copies.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Ada Public Library 551.51 KEA (Text) 33500012542254 Main Available -
Moorhead Public Library 551.51 KEA (Text) 33500012542247 Main Available -

Record details

  • ISBN: 9780316381642
  • ISBN: 0316381640
  • Physical Description: viii, 373 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
  • Edition: First edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc., [2017]

Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 357-362) and index.
Formatted Contents Note: Introduction: The last breath ; I: Making air : our first four atmospheres. Earth's early air ; The exploding lake ; The devil in the air ; Welding a dangerous weapon ; The curse and blessing of oxygen ; Hotter than the Dickens -- II: Harnessing air : the human relationship with air. The wonder-working gas of delight ; Le P├ętomane ; Controlled chaos ; Steeling yourself for tragedy ; Into the blue ; Night lights -- III: Frontiers : the new heavens. The fallout of fallout ; Albert Einstein and the people's fridge ; Weather wars ; Rumbles from Roswell ; Putting on alien airs.
Summary, etc.: A round-the-globe journey through the periodic table explains how the air people breathe reflects the world's history, tracing the origins and ingredients of the atmosphere to explain air's role in reshaping continents, steering human progress, and powering revolutions.
"The fascinating science and history of the air we breathe: It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell. In Caesar's Last Breath, ... bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it. With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation. Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second."--Jacket.

  • Booklist Reviews : Booklist Reviews 2017 June #1
    At the beginning of best-selling Kean's (The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons, 2014) exploration of the intricacies of air, he asks readers to consider the fanciful but strong likelihood that everyone now living is inhaling traces of Julius Caesar's last breath, expelled when his assassins administered the fatal knife blow more than 2,000 years ago. In fact, given the endlessly circulatory nature of our atmosphere and the trillions of molecules comprising it, our lungs are also filtering microscopic particles of everything from dinosaur exhalations to the CO2 currently heating up the planet. Yet these startling truths are just a warm-up for the author's comprehensive study of all the gases that keep us alive, including not only breathable oxygen but also the more toxic varieties that paradoxically nurtured Earth's first life-forms. In three richly informative sections, the author describes early prehuman atmospheres, reviews mankind's use of gases to advance civilization, and looks at how air chemistry has changed in the last few hundred years. Once again, Kean proves his mettle as one of science literature's most gifted practitioners. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Author Notes

Sam Kean is the New York Times bestselling author of The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, The Disappearing Spoon, and The Violinist's Thumb, all of which were also named Amazon top science books of the year. The Disappearing Spoon was a runner-up for the Royal Society of London's book of the year for 2010, and The Violinist's Thumb and The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons were nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award in 2013 and 2015, as well as the AAAS/Subaru SB&F prize. His work has appeared in The Best American Nature and Science Writing, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Psychology Today, Slate, Mental Floss, and other publications, and he has been featured on NPR's "Radiolab," "All Things Considered," and "Fresh Air."

Subject: Air
SCIENCE / Chemistry.
SCIENCE / History.

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