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One November night in the year 1782, so the story runs, two brothers sat over their winter fire in the little French town of Annonay, watching the grey smoke-wreaths from the hearth curl up the wide chimney. Their names were Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier, they were papermakers by trade, and were noted as possessing thoughtful minds and a deep interest in all scientific knowledge and new discovery.
Before that night—a memorable night, as it was to prove—hundreds of millions of people had watched the rising smoke-wreaths of their fires without drawing any special inspiration from the fact.”