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Caesar's Last Breath
Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us
By Sam Kean
Narrated by Ben Sullivan / 10 hours 33 minutes
“In the beginning there was no earth and no air as we know it today. Kean takes us through the billions of years of changes with how the atmosphere became full of air! He tells biographical stories of early scientists who discover oxygen, hydrogen, etc. down the periodic table in an engaging form. Basically, Caesar's last breath is still around, molecules of air move and may stay in our atmosphere unless an "event" makes a big commotion. But outer space "air" adds to us daily and humans have even added more troublesome chemicals to our air. Think of the atomic bomb, nuclear testing, and forms of pollution. And ALIENS? This is a serious book on chemistry BUT enjoyable because of the presentation of facts - with historical references, personalities, trials & errors (lots of those!) and the author's sense of humor! Bravo, Sam Kean.”Linda, The Bookloft
The Guardian's Best Science Book of 2017: 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, New York Times 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.
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