Light and Life

Light and Life

Book - 2002
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Blackwell North Amer
Light, like no other physical phenomenon, is linked in a wide variety of ways with the biological phenomenon of life. We can read these words because light is reflected from them, and carries the information to the retina; the oxygen we breathe was produced by photosynthesis; our sense of alertness relies on our biological clock, set using the cues of light and dark.
Michael Gross explores the symbiotic relation-ship of light and life in this intriguing and entertaining book. Starting with astronomy and our relationship with the Sun and dependence on photosynthesis, he then turns to some of the stranger outcomes of the relationship, such as bioluminescent creatures, and their evolutionary significance. Finally he looks at the influence of light on biological time-keeping, the focus of much current scientific research.

Oxford University Press
Light, more than any other physical phenomenon, lies at the heart of almost every aspect of life. To give just one example: photosynthesis, which converts sunlight into usable energy, creates the calories that sustain you, the oxygen you breathe, even the ozone layer that protects you from dangerous radiation.
Biochemist Michael Gross takes us on a fascinating, far reaching exploration of light and life, ranging from the big bang to the impact of a single photon on the human retina. Light and Life ranges from the formation of the solar system and the conditions that allowed life to arise on earth, to the ever-deepening interaction between light and life in all its myriad forms. In a breezy and informative style, Gross explains the "oxygen revolution," when photosynthesis changed not only life but the planet itself (by pumping oxygen into the atmosphere and creating the ozone layer, among other things). He describes the workings of chloroplasts, and the most bizarre aspect of light's relationship to life: bioluminescence, the generation of light by plants and animals (from the flashlight fish, which hunts with its own high-beams, to a photoplankton that lights up to attract predators of its predators). Gross is at his most illuminating as he explores the relationship of the human body to light, from the structure of the eye, to vitamin D synthesis, to circadian rhythms. He concludes with a thoughtful rumination on the historically central place of the sun and light in human cultures.
Packed with eye-catching illustrations and boxed features on important scientific topics, Light and Life is science writing at its brightest.

Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780198564805
Branch Call Number: 571.455 GRO
Characteristics: xi, 161 p. : ill. ; 23 cm


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