The Alchemy of Air

The Alchemy of Air

A Jewish Genius, A Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

Book - 2008
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A sweeping history of tragic genius, cutting-edge science, and the discovery that changed billions of lives--including your own.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster. Mass starvation, long predicted for the fast-growing population, was about to become a reality. A call went out to the world's scientists to find a solution.
This is the story of the two enormously gifted, fatally flawed men who found it: the brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and the reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, controlled world markets, and saved millions of lives. Their invention continues to feed us today; without it, more than two billion people would starve.

But their epochal triumph came at a price we are still paying. The Haber-Bosch process was also used to make the gunpowder and high explosives that killed millions during the two world wars. Both men were vilified during their lives; both, disillusioned and disgraced, died tragically. Today we face the other un­intended consequences of their discovery--massive nitrogen pollution and a growing pandemic of obesity.

The Alchemy of Air is the extraordinary, previously untold story of two master scientists who saved the world only to lose everything and of the unforseen results of a discovery that continues to shape our lives in the most fundamental and dramatic of ways.
Publisher: New York : Harmony Books, c2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307351784
Characteristics: xvii, 316 p. ; 25 cm


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Oct 03, 2016

A very good science book with a great narrative style. Tells of the development of manufacturing ammonia out of the nitrogen found in air. This is a requirement for modern farming due to the limited amount of fixed nitrogen in natural soil. Very interesting including tying the discoveries to WW2. Definitely worth reading if you are3 interested.

Dec 21, 2015

I almost didn't pick this one up because of the term 'alchemy' in the title. That would have been a mistake. I found this book really interesting. It is very well researched. I learned tons of stuff about history and biochemistry. I found less than half a dozen typos. That sounds bad but I usually find about 20 typos in anything written about science because proof editors tend not to be science buffs and loose focus about a quarter of the way through the book. It kept my interest all the way through though.


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zelig123 May 30, 2017

zelig123 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

katwright Jun 18, 2012

katwright thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over


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