Science and natural history writer Hannah Holmes and writer Julie Fenster on this edition of Fresh Air. Hannah Holmes' new book is The Secret Life of Dust: From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter, the Big Consequences of Little Things. Among the interesting facts you'll find in the book is this: within a juice glass sitting in the sun, you would find 25,000 microscopic pieces of dust, at a minimum.
Julie Fenster's written a new book about the coincidence and circumstance that led to the first use of ether, making surgery painless for the first time. The breakthrough day - known as Ether Day - was October 16, 1846. One of the men behind it was a Boston dentist, William Morton, who was also a conman and an opportunist. Fenster tells the story in her new book, Ether Day: The Strange Tale of America's Greatest Medical Discovery and the Haunted Men Who Made it. (Broadcast Date: August 13, 2001)