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Every breath you take contains a molecule of history

‘Caesar’s Last Breath’ tells the stories of invisible gases

By
7:00am, June 25, 2017
painting of Caesar’s last moments

OUT OF BREATH  Caesar’s last moments have inspired much scientific thinking, as well as a new book.

Caesar’s Last Breath
Sam Kean
Little, Brown and Co., $28

Julius Caesar could have stayed home on March 15, 44 B.C. But mocking the soothsayer who had predicted his death, the emperor rode in his litter to Rome’s Forum. There he met the iron daggers of 60 senators.

As he lay in a pool of blood, he may have gasped a final incrimination to his protégé Brutus: You too, my son? Or maybe not. But he certainly would have breathed a dying breath, a final exhalation of some 25 sextillion gas molecules. And it’s entirely possible that you just breathed in one of them.

In fact, calculating the probability of a particle of Caesar’s dying breath appearing in any given liter of air (the volume of a deep breath) has

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