Reviews of Educational Material  |   March 2018
Oh Excellent Air Bag: Under the Influence of Nitrous Oxide, 1799–1920
Author Notes
  • Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. david.waisel@childrens.harvard.edu
  • (Accepted for publication December 5, 2017.)
    (Accepted for publication December 5, 2017.)×
Article Information
Reviews of Educational Material / Cardiovascular Anesthesia / Central and Peripheral Nervous Systems / Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Systems / Obstetric Anesthesia / Pain Medicine / Pharmacology / Regional Anesthesia / Respiratory System
Reviews of Educational Material   |   March 2018
Oh Excellent Air Bag: Under the Influence of Nitrous Oxide, 1799–1920
Anesthesiology 3 2018, Vol.128, 688-689. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002070
Anesthesiology 3 2018, Vol.128, 688-689. doi:10.1097/ALN.0000000000002070
Oh Excellent Air Bag presents a curated collection of 12 scientific and popular works about nitrous oxide, spanning 1799 to 1920. Voyeuristic readers will enjoy reading the frequently explicit experiences of inhaling nobles. Readers who prefer a coherent history with a focus on characters, causes, and effects may be less satisfied. That reader will savor the historian Mike Jay’s engaging introduction, but will be disappointed that each work does not have its own commentary.
The story of nitrous oxide began when English chemist and political agitator Joseph Priestly (1733 to 1804), discovered “dephlogisticated nitrous air” and described it in Volume I of Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air in 1774.1  A dephlogisticated substance meant that it had undergone combustion and had released an imaginary substance called phlogiston.
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