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The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius Hardcover – May 26, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300124392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300124392
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,375,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this brilliantly researched and written study, British medical historian Jay (The Air Loom Gang) tells the story of Thomas Beddoes (1760–1808), who established a Pneumatic Institution near Bristol to test his theories about using various gases to treat illness. Beddoes's science fell somewhere between alchemy and a truly modern medicine, and he attracted a circle that was dazzling even for its time, when salons brought together the most gifted conversationalists from across the spectrum of society. Beddoes employed the young Humphrey Davy, who quickly made important discoveries about batteries and electricity, and whose investigations of nitrous oxide lent Beddoes's work on gases some degree of respectability. Poets Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey also came into Beddoes's orbit, as did James Watt and Josiah Wedgwood as both sponsors of Beddoes and fathers of two of his consumptive patients. Fans of scientific biography and history of science, as well as history buffs in general, will be engrossed by Jay's marvelous study of an unusual man and the political and intellectual ferment of his time. Illus. (May)
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Review

"'Magnificent!' Oliver Sacks 'Enthralling. This is exactly the kind of cross-cultural biography we need. Lively and sympathetic, it restores the renegade Dr Thomas Beddoes to his rightful place in scientific history, but also to his revolutionary circle of literary friends.' Richard Holmes" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By SwissMiss on March 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Beddoes was searching for a cure for tuberculosis and thought the new science of separating air into its components--oxygen, nitrogen, etc--might yield a cure. The climax of the story comes when he and his fellow researchers began experimenting with inhaling nitrous oxide (laughing gas). The poet Robert Southey, one of many friends who gathered at Dr. Beddoes' clinic to try the "gas bag," remarked after his first experience, "The atmosphere of the highest heaven must be composed of this gas." A delightful and well-written story for those interested in the history of science. I learned a lot about the late 18th century, too.
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazing story, extremely well communicated by the author Mike Jay. Although the hardcover came out a couple years ago, if you like medical history, or the history of psychoactives, or the way that mind-altering drugs affect culture and medicine, this is a really outstanding book by a true expert in the field. Strongly recommended.
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