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Reviews by Dale Pendell
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The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and his Sons of Genius
by Mike Jay
Publisher:
Yale University Press 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Dale Pendell
9/8/2009

Mike Jay, in The Atmosphere of Heaven, explores the golden age of gentleman amateurs—the years prior to and following the French Revolution—through the life of Dr. Thomas Beddoes, the founder of the Medical Pneumatic Institution, which was dedicated to the alleviation of suffering through the new possibilities of chemical medicine, and in particular, “factitious airs”, the newly isolated gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide. [ read more ]

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The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
by Richard Holmes
Publisher:
Pantheon 
Year:
2008 
Reviewed by Dale Pendell
9/8/2009

It is the second half of both The Age of Wonder and The Atmosphere of Heaven that considerably overlap, centering on the life and career of Humphry Davy and his experiments with nitrous oxide at the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol. Beddoes hired Davy as his assistant physician and researcher at the Institution in 1798. Thus Beddoes becomes the crucial link in a chain that runs, we might say, Priestley → Beddoes → Davy → Faraday → Maxwell → Einstein. [ read more ]

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