Michael R. Lynn
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Balloons and mass science
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This chapter focuses on the manner in which balloons underwent popularization and commodification. In the 1780s, ballooning "fixed the attention of all the savants, and became the unique object of conversation in all assemblies." Ballooning clearly dominated the headlines of popular science. Many balloonists depended on support from a larger public. While aeronauts and merchants commercialized balloons in new ways, they also integrated them into the existing superstructure of popularized science. Balloons drew the attention of the general public, savants, the press, the court, and the police. It is possible, however, that the very ubiquity of balloons also served to bring their utility into question. While balloons were undoubtedly entertaining and marketable, many commentators doubted their usefulness to society. Balloons had great potential for commerce as a means of transporting goods.

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