Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coffee: is there anything it can't do?

I just caught the author of this book on a Science Friday podcast, and am dying to read it; it sounds like a paradise of intellectual nerd-dom. The book tells the story not only of Joseph Priestley's discovery of oxygen, but also of his role as enlightenment leader (which was controversial enough to get him expelled from England) and his relationships with the American founding fathers.

As a side note, the author offered this:

"It's not an accident that the age of reason accompanies the rise of caffeinated beverages." Apparently, before coffee came to Europe from Africa (it originated in Ethiopia!), the drink of choice for those who could afford it was alcohol. Once coffee became popular, there was no stopping enlightenment leaders, who, wired on caffeine, went on to lay down the foundations for modern science and government.

You can listen to the author here -- or just go to the coffee shop and fuel your own personal enlightenment.

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