Worcester Business Journal
Delivering news and opinion for the Central Massachusetts business community. All Business, All the Time…
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Britain at the end of the 18th Century was a volatile political minefield. There was widespread suspicion of the effects the French Revolution would have on British society and this lead to numerous riots and serious government instituted repression. It was during this turmoil that scientist and prolific writer Thomas Beddoes set up his controversial Pneumatic Institute. This institution was part research laboratory to study the application of chemistry to medicine and part hospital for the poor who suffered consumption and other incurable disorders. Beddoes was also a vocal critic of the British government and a suspected Jacobean sympathizer. Dr. Beddoes and Humphrey Davy’s experiments with gases eventually led to the discovery of nitrous oxide and its unexpected and hilarious effects on anyone who inhaled the gas. What followed is a complex, strange and wild history of medicine and politics that has never been taught in schools. Tonight on Inquiry we speak with science and medicine historian MIKE JAY about his entertaining and enlightening history THE ATMOSPHERE OF HEAVEN: THE UNNATURAL EXPERIMENTS OF DR. BEDDOES AND HIS SONS OF GENIUS.