The title comes from the great book by Steve Johnson, The Invention of Air. Priestly was an 18th century scientist, minister and radical political critic. He won great fame as the inventor of carbonated water and the first to isolate oxygen and many other gases. His outspoken politics and support for the American and French revolutions caused his home and lab to be burnt by the mob in in the United Kingdom and he was forced to less to the US.
He serves as an example of a great renaissance man, an inspiration – and a cautionary note, to us today.