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Eating the Sun

New or Used: $29.99
'Eating the Sun' is the story of the discovery of a miracle: the source of life itself. This book explains how biologists discovered photosynthesis and through it found a new understanding of the history of our planet and how life is inconceivable without it. Photosynthesis is the most mundane of miracles. It surrounds us in our gardens and parks and countryside; even our cityscapes are shot through with trees. It makes the sky blue and nature green. That greenery is the signature of the pigments with which plants harvest the sun; wherever nature offers us greenery, the molecular machinery of photosynthesis is making oxygen, energy and organic matter from the raw material of sunlight, water and carbon dioxide. We rarely give the green machinery that brings about this transformation much thought, and few of us understand its beautifully honed mechanisms. But we are dimly aware that those photosynthetic mechanisms are the basis of our lives twice over: the ultimate source of all our food and the ultimate source of all our breaths. 'Eating the Sun' will foster and enrich that awareness. And by connecting aspects of photosynthesis that are vital to our lives to the crucial role its molecular mechanisms have played through more than two billion years of the earth's history, 'Eating the Sun' will change the way the reader sees the world.
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Promotional Information

'Eating the Sun' is the story of the discovery of a miracle: the source of life itself. This book explains how biologists discovered photosynthesis and through it found a new understanding of the history of our planet and how life is inconceivable without it. / The extraordinary account of the photosynthesis miracle and how it has worked to create life on our planet for over 2 billion years. / 'Eating the Sun' will provoke a new understanding and awareness of this crucial life-giving phenomenon and change how we view the planet. / Oliver Morton is the author of the much-praised 'Mapping Mars' which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. / 'Eating the Sun' will appeal across the spectrum of popular science interests. / Competition: Simon Singh, Matt Ridley

About the Author

Oliver Morton is a science writer and journalist. He has written extensively for New Scientist, Nature and a range of National broadsheets.


Award-winning science journalist Morton's (Mapping Mars) latest book is a beautiful example of what science writing can achieve and serves as a unique contribution to the public understanding of a research field underrepresented in popular science literature. Providing textbook details of the photochemical and enzymatic events that take place in the chloroplast to produce photosynthesis, Morton writes in clear and graceful prose, augmenting his well-researched facts by telling the fascinating backstory of the research scientists who have added to our understanding of a biological process that is so crucial to sustaining life on Earth. Morton brings to light the sometimes fractious and yet interdisciplinary collaborative groups that worked together across an international landscape to elucidate the mechanisms of photosynthesis. Moving from the molecular level, he explores the impact of plants on our planet, describing paleobotanical research, exobiology, and Lovelock's Gaian view of Earth. Tying all this together, a final chapter considers the impact of our reliance on fossil fuel, derived from early photosynthesizing plants, on our planet. Strongly recommended for large public libraries and academic libraries.-Sara Rutter, Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa Lib., Honolulu Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Praise for 'Mapping Mars': 'A wonderful work of intellectual history and a permanent addition to the Mars bookshelf.' Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the 'Red Mars' trilogy and 'The Years of Rice and Salt' 'Splendid!the best factual book on Mars that money can buy.' New Scientist 'A remarkable book!to read this book is to become infected with a fascinating which I hadn't realised Mars held.' James Hamilton-Patersons, London Review of Books 'A beautifully intelligent meditation on place, and on the paradoxes of place that apply to a place like Mars!it will be around for a long time to come.' Francis Spufford, Evening Standard

The cycle of photosynthesis is the cycle of life, says science journalist Morton (Mapping Mars). Green leaves trap sunlight and use it to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and emit life-giving oxygen in its place. Indeed, plants likely created Earth's life-friendly oxygen- and nitrogen-rich biosphere. In the first part, Morton, chief news and features editor of the leading science journal, Nature, traces scientists' quest to understand how photosynthesis works at the molecular level. In part two, Morton addresses evidence of how plants may have kick-started the complex life cycle on Earth. The book's final part considers photosynthesis in relation to global warming, for, he says, the Earth's plant-based balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen is broken: in burning vast amounts of fossil fuels, we are emitting more carbon dioxide than the plants can absorb. But Morton also explores the possibility that our understanding of photosynthesis might be harnessed to regain that balance. Readers should persevere through (or skim) the more technical discussions in the first part, for what follows is a vast, elegant synthesis of biology, physics and environmental science that can inform our discussions of urgent issues. (Nov. 4) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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