CHAPTER 1

TAKE WING

YOU ARE IN A SOUP OF AIR MOLECULES

AIR TAKES UP SPACE

“Air is compressed in the same way as a feather bed is compressed and crushed by the weight of a sleeper,” Leonardo wrote. He realized that air has volume. And he knew that a bird’s wing was pushing against something real when it lifted the bird into flight—even though he couldn’t see what it was. As Leonardo observed, air is a substance. It’s invisible, but it’s present. It’s here colliding with you and everything around you.

Air is matter, and it’s made of nitrogen, oxygen, and small amounts of other gasses, including argon. Air takes up space and can be weighed. And while we cannot see air, we can see the effects of it at work in our lives.

Air takes up space, has ...

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