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By Michael Allaby

'Atmosphere' tells the tale of the ambience sciences, starting with the popularity that air is a cloth substance - a mix of gases - and describes the unraveling of its chemical composition.

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Extra resources for Atmosphere: A Scientific History of Air, Weather, and Climate (Discovering the Earth)

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In his note to Nature Rayleigh described how he had obtained nitrogen by a method suggested to him by Professor Ramsay, who had noted a similar discrepancy. After Nature published the note the two men agreed to work on the problem together, and in  they solved it. Ramsay wrote to Rayleigh that he had isolated from the atmospheric nitrogen gas a heavy component that appeared to be very unreactive. He proposed calling the gas argon, the Greek word for “idle,” to reflect the fact that it would form no compounds.

He had been elected to the membership of every leading scientific society in the world. Georges Cuvier (–), the most famous naturalist in Europe, wrote his eulogy, and the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (–) praised him in his most famous work, Critique of Pure Reason, published in . Since , Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, has presented an annual Priestley Award to a scientist whose discoveries contribute to the welfare of mankind. ANTOINE-LAURENT LAVOISIER AND OXYGEN Joseph Priestley discovered dephlogisticated air by heating mercuric oxide.

The way this happens varies according to the size of the particles and the wavelength of the light. Air molecules—nitrogen and oxygen—scatter short wavelengths more than longer wavelengths. In descending order of wavelength (starting with the longest), the spectrum of white light consists of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Violet and indigo light, with the shortest wavelengths, are scattered to such an extent that they disappear entirely. The next wavelength is blue. It is scattered in all directions.

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