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Monday, February 26, 2018

Review: Caesar's Last Breath

Caesar's Last Breath is a non-fiction collection of science essays about gases and our atmosphere. It's got a lot of great stuff about gases, including details about the discovery of Oxygen, as well as the number of different atmospheres the Earth has had since it formed 4.5 billion years ago.

I enjoyed the coverage of various aspects of atmospheric science, including scary stories about the death from radiation that some of the scientists and engineers engaged in the Manhattan project had. In both cases, they both knew they'd gotten fatal doses, and it must have been a horrifying thought. What's sad was that both incidences were quite preventable.

The coverage of weather forecasting by computer was probably the least detailed, but that subject probably deserves its own book. And yes, there's coverage of climate change, and Kean editorializes that he thinks that humanity would probably rather find a way to sequester carbon or engineer the planet's thermal systems than to cut back on its luxurious lifestyle (probably sadly true).

Finally, I also enjoyed the account of how various gases were liquefied (I've always wondered how liquid nitrogen was made) and Einstein's excursions into inventing refrigerators.

Good stuff, and well worth your time. Recommended.

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