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A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Oxygen Day!

On this day in 1774, Joseph Priestly invented oxygen, an innovation for which the world had hitherto been holding its breath. 
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Priestly was a member of the Lunar Society, a collection of science fans who met on the full moon (so the light could guide its members home after the meeting.  The membership included Josiah Wedgwood (as in Wedgewood china) and Erasmus Darwin (the two grandfathers of Charles Darwin), Boulton and Watt, Benjamin Franklin, James Hutton, Joseph Banks, William Herschel, et al.  Readers of Patrick O Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series may recognize Banks.  Boulton and Watt are the steam engine guys.  Herschel discovered Uranus with both hands, two of its moons (Titania and Oberon), and two moons of Saturn.  Hutton developed the idea of "deep time" and geological stratigraphy.  Franklin needs no introduction.  We hope.  Wedgewood was the china-pottery Wedgewood.  Scientifically, he invented the pyrometer to measure temperatures in kilns, but more importantly, he was a mover and shaker in the anti-slavery movement. 

All in all, those meetings must have been a lively affair. 

3 comments:

  1. It would be hard to write a historical novel with the accurate list. People would accuse the author of just inserting historical celebrities.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And Priestly was quite light-headed upon success.

    At least, I think that's what happened when he breathed some of the highly-enriched oxygen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. How did they get to the full moon back before rocket fuel?

    ReplyDelete

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