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Jen

I heard your comment on the Colbert Report that plants were the first to omit oxygen into the air. What about cyanobacteria? Fossilized oxygen-producing cyanobacteria have been found from over 2.8 billion years ago and were actually the first organisms to convert the reducing atmosphere of early earth into an oxidizing one by secreting oxygen. Oxygen was in the atmosphere before plants even existed.

Liz

I saw the program and heard your comments about people chopping down trees for fear that they were harmful and Franklin's role as an early environmentalist. I found it very interesting but cannot seem to find any other information on it, do you have a source for the fear of trees in that time?

Erin

Such a great interview. As funny as Colbert is, seems like it would be a tough interview to navigate. But you held your own. Really enjoyed it. Congratulations.

Eben

It's odd to watch an interview of Colberts' that goes well. He seemed to enjoy the chat and it made for great TV. Thanks for not getting chewed up and spit out like the C.Dion guy the night before. Kudos man.

Zeh

The interview is online. Full episode:
http://www.comedycentral.com/colbertreport/full-episodes/index.jhtml?episodeId=220774

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What about cyanobacteria? Fossilized oxygen-producing cyanobacteria have been found from over 2.8 billion years ago and were actually the first organisms to convert the reducing atmosphere of early earth into an oxidizing one by secreting oxygen.

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Ross

Hello Steven,

I will be attending a meeting at the Unitarian Church, Sunbury, Pa to fight the following action:

Joseph Priestley House Slated for Closure by the State of Pa.

Below is an email I sent to the British "Priestley Society".
====================================
Members of the Priestley Society,

I will be attending a meeting in two days at the Unitarian Church in Northumberland, Pa, USA, to fight against the proposed closing to the public of Joseph Priestley’s home in Northumberland, Pa.

This closure has the support of Pa State Governor Rendell, as well as the incredulous backing of our local newspaper, The Daily Item.

I have been asked to speak, as a result of the following letter I wrote first to that local newspaper, which they refused to publish, and then to my congressman.

I know Ron Blatchley, who portrays Joseph Priestley, as my teacher, mentor, friend, and landlord.

Any suggestions you can provide (soon if possible) will be greatly appreciated.

http://www.josephpriestleyhouse.org/index.php?page=urgent-news http://www.dailyitem.com/archivesearch/local_story_092073203.html

http://www.dailyitem.com/archivesearch/local_story_080081133.html

http://www.dailyitem.com/archivesearch/local_story_077161557.html

http://www.dailyitem.com/archivesearch/local_story_069001755.html ß the infamous editorial by the Daily Item.

Where to send your protests:

Governor Edward Rendell
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120
(717) 787-2500
governor@state.pa.us

Thank you for any assistance you may provide,

Ross Garside

rossg@ptd.net
Cell: 570-898-4213

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David J. Fulton

I have just read the Invention of Air and was interested in the frequent references to Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions. This reminded me of a book by Arthur Koestler, the Sleepwalkers (1959), which I read in the early '60's. Koestler's describd the evolution of science as a struggle between insight and discovery on the one hand and the pull of tradition and accepted ideology on the other. Plogiston theory is for Priestley what epicycles are to Kepler. When Kuhn's book came out in the '70's I eagerly searched it for references to Koestler--nothing. Kuhn's paradigms were, to my mind, a highly abstracted and maybe superficial characterization of Koestler's Sleepwalkers and your description of Priestley adds breadth to Koestler's interpretation. If his work is not familiar to you, I encourage you to take a look.

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My Photo
I'm a father of three boys, husband of one wife, and author of nine books, host of one television series, and co-founder of three web sites. We split our time between Brooklyn, NY and Marin County, CA. Personal correspondence should go to sbeej68 at gmail dot com. If you're interested in having me speak at an event, drop a line to Wesley Neff at the Leigh Bureau (WesN at Leighbureau dot com.)

My Books

  • Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

    Steven Johnson: How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
    A history of innovation accompanied by a 6-part TV series on PBS and the BBC, this was the first of my books to crack the top 5 on the NY Times bestseller list. Appropriately for a book that celebrates diverse networks, this was the most collaborative of any of my books. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age

    Steven Johnson: Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age
    My first book-length attempt to organize my writings about emergence and networks into something resembling a political philosophy, which I called Peer Progressivism. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

    Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation
    An exploration of environments that lead to breakthrough innovation, in science, technology, business, and the arts. I conceived it as the closing book in a trilogy on innovative thinking, after Ghost Map and Invention. But in a way, it completes an investigation that runs through all the books, and laid the groundwork for How We Got To Now. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Invention of Air

    The Invention of Air
    The story of the British radical chemist Joseph Priestley, who ended up having a Zelig-like role in the American Revolution. My version of a founding fathers book, and a reminder that most of the Enlightenment was driven by open source ideals. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : The Ghost Map

    The Ghost Map
    The story of a terrifying outbreak of cholera in 1854 London 1854 that ended up changing the world. An idea book wrapped around a page-turner. I like to think of it as a sequel to Emergence if Emergence had been a disease thriller. You can see a trailer for the book here. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter

    Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
    The title says it all. This one sparked a slightly insane international conversation about the state of pop culture -- and particularly games. There were more than a few dissenters, but the response was more positive than I had expected. And it got me on The Daily Show, which made it all worthwhile. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Mind Wide Open : Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life
    My first best-seller, and the only book I've written in which I appear as a recurring character, subjecting myself to a battery of humiliating brain scans. The last chapter on Freud and the neuroscientific model of the mind is one of my personal favorites. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software

    Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
    The story of bottom-up intelligence, from slime mold to Slashdot. Most of my books sold more copies than this one, but Emergence has influenced the most eclectic mix of fields: political campaigns, web business models, urban planning, the war on terror. (Available from IndieBound here.)

  • : Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

    Interface Culture : How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate
    My first. The book I wrote instead of finishing my dissertation, predicting the growing cultural significance of interface and information design. Still relevant, I think. But I haven't read it in a while, so who knows what's in there! (Available from IndieBound here.)

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