Atmospheric Monitoring With Arduino
There’s a story (it’s either an old vaudeville joke or a Zen koan) in which a fisherman asks a fish, “What’s the water like down there?” and the fish replies “What is water?” If the story is just a joke, the point is to make us laugh; but if it’s a koan, the point is that the most obvious and ubiquitous parts of our immediate environment are, paradoxically, often the easiest to overlook.
We as a species are probably a little bit smarter than fish: at least we know that we spend our lives “swimming” at the bottom of an ocean of air. About 4/5th of that ocean is the relatively harmless gas nitrogen. Around another 1/5 of it is the highly reactive and slightly toxic gas oxygen. The Earth’s atmosphere also contains trace amounts of other harmless or slightly toxic gases like argon, carbon dioxide, and methane. And depending on where you live, it may contain even smaller, but much more toxic, amounts of pollutants like soot, carbon monoxide, and ozone.
Yet how many of us, like the fish in the koan, overlook the atmosphere? Who in your life can tell you the general composition of the air around them? How many people know what’s inside every breath they take? Do you? Reading this book and building these gadgets will take you on the first steps of a journey toward understanding our ocean of air.
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