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CONTENTS.

PART I.

THE NATURE, PROPERTIES, AND BENEFICIAL EFFECTS

OF THE ATMOSPHERE IN THE SYSTEM OF NATURE,

AND THE EVIDENCES WHICH ITS CONSTITUTION AF-

FORDS OF THE WISDOM AND BENEFICENCE OF THE

CREATOR.

Introduction.—The works of God deserve our serious

contemplation—His wisdom displayed in the various

scenes connected with sublunary nature—His power

displayed in the luminaries of heaven—His perfections

manifested even in the invisible regions of nature—

Atmosphere an important appendage to our globe—

Outline of subjects in reference to the atmosphere . page 7

CHAPTER I.

Proofs that air is a material substance—Various experi-

ments illustrative of this position—It produces sound,

and shows a resistance to bodies passing through it—

It excludes all other bodies from the place it occupies

—A common bellows shows the materiality of air—Its

waves frequently become an object of sight . page 15

CHAPTER II.

The weight and pressure of the atmosphere, and the

quantity of matter it contains—Comparative weight of

air and water—Experiments illustrative of its pressure

—Barometer, and the mode of its action—Pascal's cele-

brated experiment with water and wine, to prove the

pressure of the atmosphere—Remarks and reflections

in reference to such experiments—Atmospheric pres-

sure on the body of a man—This pressure varies—

Weight of the whole atmosphere—Air decreases in

density as wc ascend to the higher regions—Scenes

beheld from balloons—The pressure of the atmosphere

illustrated by a great variety of simple experiments page 19
CHAPTER III.

Facts illustrated by the pressure of the atmosphere—It

explains suction—The process of a child sucking the

breast—Why two smooth surfaces adhere with great

force—Action of a boy's sucker—Adherence of shell-

fish to the rocks on which they are found—Why frosts

occasion a scantiness of water—Why a cask will not

run, unless open at top—Mode of taking a draught of

water, and the principle on which it depends—Action

of the syphon—Remarks and reflections in reference to

the atmospheric pressure—Its discovery struck the

learned throughout Europe with surprise—Amazing

pressure on the human body—How our dwellings are

prevented from being crushed to atoms—Wisdom

and benevolence of the Divine Being in such opera-

tions page 37

CHAPTER IV.

The elasticity of the air, and the phenomena it explains—

Important purposes effected by the atmosphere—Va-

rious illustrations of the elasticity of air—Effects pro-

duced in various substances by this property—Spring

of the air equal to its weight—Is susceptible of dilata-

tion and compression—Elasticity of air not capable

of being destroyed—This property explains a great

variety of appearances in nature and art . . page 49

CHAPTER V.

The height of the atmosphere, or the elevation to which

it extends beyond the surface of the earth—Height of

the atmosphere, were it of uniform density—Its height,

as ascertained from the twilight—Mode of finding its

height from the effects of refraction—Probably extends

to a much higher elevation than is generally supposed

—Height of fire-balls, and other meteors—Universal

space may be filled with ethereal fluids . . page 59

CHAPTER VI.

The composition of the atmosphere—Atmosphere a com-
pound fluid — History of this discovery—Component
parts of which it consists—Properties of oxygen gas-
Properties of nitrous oxyde—Its extraordinary effect on
the animal spirits, illustrated in a variety of instances
—Its singular effects on a student in Yale College—Its
effects on the author, and other individuals—On in-
sects, etc.—Reflections on this Bubject—Properties of
nitrogen gas—Carbonic-acid gas—Where found—Its
specific gravity—Fatal to all animals that breathe it—

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