Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring / up through the atmosphere, / up where the air is clear! / Oh, let’s go fly a kite!

So – memorably – sang the freshly awakened and amended George Banks, superbly portrayed by David Tomlinson, in Disney’s “Mary Poppins.”

But just what was it about the Earth’s atmosphere that makes flying kites possible? What, despite the various elements of which it is composed, makes said air appear clear?

These and a host of other similar ones are just the type of questions Professor Paul Palmer of the University of Edinburgh sets out to answer in his forthcoming  The Atmosphere; A Very Short Introduction.

Will reading it improve your kite-flying skills? Quite possibly. Will it make you learn to put the emotional needs of your children ahead of your job in banking? No promises.