Steven Johnson talks about his book, The Invention of Air.
Johnson recounts the story of Joseph Priestley -- scientist and theologian, protege of Benjamin Franklin -- an 18th-century radical thinker who played pivotal roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the founding of the Unitarian Church, and the intellectual development of the U.S.- Book Passage
English major Steven Johnson authored Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World; How We Got to Now; Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation; The Ghost Map; The Invention of Air; and Everything Bad Is Good for You. He also wrote and co-created the PBS series “How We Got To Now.“
Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air, links the rise of coffee house culture to the Age of Enlightenment because, before coffee replaced beer as the daytime drink of choice, "the entire culture basically was drunk all day long."
As a result, he says "the coffee house was a great hub of Enlightenment-era culture."
Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air, explains that Joseph Priestly, most famous for his discovery of oxygen, was also responsible for inventing carbonated water and freely shared his ideas in open source networks among the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air, describes how Joseph Priestley's kitchen sink experiment provided evidence that plants manufacture oxygen, data Ben Franklin used to develop a theory that plants and humans are part of a greater ecosystem.
Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air, credits Joseph Priestley's religious philosophy -- a balance of science and reason that valued morals over miracles -- as inspiration for Thomas Jefferson's "remix" of the Bible.