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Air: The Restless Shaper Of The World Hardcover – Aug 21 2012

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Product Description


“ is... a spore-world of essays, essaylets, mini-biographies, gossip, whispers, lists, prose-poems and asides. ...Cheery, chatty and compulsively curious, Mr. Logan is able to draw the reader into pretty much any subject... In this lovely book, Mr. Logan makes the air airy again.” — Robert Macfarlane (Wall Street Journal)

About the Author

William Bryant Logan is a Quill & Trowel Award-winning writer, a member of the faculty at the New York Botanical Garden, a sought-after lecturer and teacher, and a practicing arborist. He is the author of Oak and Dirt, the latter of which was made into an award-winning documentary. He lives in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Four stars for lots of interesting facts, but the writing is not up to his usual standard. Feb. 19 2015
By lyndonbrecht - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is an infuriating book. It could be so good, and Logan has written other books that I thought good. This book. however, is a hodgepodge and for me it didn't all fit together.

It does have interesting information, lots of it. The book explores wind, storms, breathing, pollution, spores, pollination and more. At several points in the book Logan goes off on tangents about his own experience with a sort of biographical detail more or less relating to the book's topic, but not very germane. His life seems to have been a fascinating one, but let's put that in an autobiography and edit this one.

Three stars for the actual writing but four for a large amount of interesting information.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
good book Feb. 15 2013
By Michael D Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Some of the chapters are a little slow and it was a streach relating them to air but over all I liked it. I loved his book, "dirt" and I will read oak in the future.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
AIR April 22 2013
By Gordon Moog - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a pilot, hang glider pilot, sailor, mushroom hunter and outdoors man, AIR had a lot in it for me. Explanations are clear and straight forward. (Even I could understand almost everything.) And you don't have to read it in the order it is written. Skip around and you'll still enjoy it.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Information About Air, What's In It, and Weather Dec 4 2012
By George Bush - Published on
Format: Hardcover
All flesh is made from the carbon dioxide in the air. Photosynthesis and respiration would balance were it not for death. Some cellular carbon is buried in the soil or sinks to the bottom of the sea. Thus, release of oxygen in photosynthesis exceeds the release of carbon by respiration. Oxygen in the upper atmosphere shields us from UV radiation which blasts double-oxygen molecules apart that may then recombine or form ozone. This raises the temperature in the upper stratosphere to 28 degrees F, up from -71 F below that layer. Weather thus cannot rise through this warmer top layer, creating the anvil-shaped tops on the largest thunderheads where they hit the stratosphere.

Over 78% of air is nitrogen - essential for life/proteins. Without decay and decomposition, the atmosphere would have been devoid of nitrogen long ago.

Air is set in motion by the sun heating areas near the equator more than at the poles. Rising air near the equator flows north and cools, lowering the pressure beneath it. Colder air from the poles is denser, flows south, and warms as it goes. Because the Earth spins while this occurs the air is deflected west of east, depending on whether it is in the northern or southern hemisphere, and the results quickly become unpredictable and ever-shifting.

Growing air pollution first masked the effects of climate change - temperatures declined slightly from 1945 til the 1970s.

Dust carried by the trade winds from Africa supplies much of the iron and calcium and over half the phosphorus the ocean's plankton require. The dust reaches Brazil, the Caribbeans, the SE U.S., etc. About one billion tons/year, mostly from the Sahara and nearby deserts. Little windstorms in the desert (no rainstorms) lift the fine soil, microbes, and spores into the upper air where it is move NE to SW across the Atlantic. Similarly with the Gobi desert - to eg. Hawaii.

There are 10 - 15 thousand spores in the average cubic yard of air, rising to as high as a million after a summer rain. These fungi, when not decaying the dead, are mostly responsible for plant diseases, though sometimes problems for humans as well (eg. athlete's foot, St. Anthony's Fire - serious problem, now prevented by treating rye plants). Bacteria, when aloft, create condensation nuclei.

EPA analyses post 9/11 near the WTC used samples from the ground, instead of from the air. Even so, the pH found was high (9 - 11), and long, slender fibers that could lodge in the lungs were present. Ten years later 43 of the 60 - 70 thousand site workers have incurred medical problems and biopsies have found silicates, asbestos, and carbon nanotubes in their lungs.
Philosophical popular science book Nov. 29 2013
By Jenny Schwartz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is such a wonderful book that I completely understand why the New York Times Book Review chose it as a "Notable Book" of the year. This is science woven into life and reflections on life, and written with a poet's enjoyment of language and using language to evoke an experience.

Air was simply a delight to read. I also learned things I hadn't known (like the origin of the phrase "beeline" - bees are determined and focussed flyers) and had some of my assumptions shaken up a bit. I love when a book can do that.

Part of what made the book so accessible was William Logan's use of his personal experiences. Then he'd reflect on them, and on occasion, widen them out to philosophical musing.

"Active, responsive, not reactive. These are the qualities of a good pilot. You must give up assumptions and live alert to the slightest nuance that comes into the five senses, responding not as your supposed self, but as your wings. It doesn't sound like a bad way to live: without complaint, fantasy, or demands, but in conversation with the moment." pp.190-91

"A person wears so many grooves (habits) during a long life that eventually the deep-worn grooves begin to dig a grave." p.216

Overall, the "Air" read to me like an appreciation of life and a challenge to adventure. Pretty good for a science book.