Heliophage


Review: Booklist
October 28, 2008, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews received

Another generous review, by Gilbert Taylor (who also had nice things to say about Mapping Mars‘s “appealing blend of science and imagination” way back when), in the American Library Association’s Booklist

Morton’s curiosity-driven ruminations concern photosynthesis in a work imbued with wonder and worry about that biological process. Worry, because anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions outstrip the uptakecapacity of plants; wonder, that they have that ability in the first place. These dueling moods recur throughout Morton’s narrative as he recounts discoveries about photosynthesis, an intricate chemical cascade that daily begins with sunlight and ends in the longest rhythms of geological time. Unshackling the science from its chronological history, Morton opens with the applications of radioactive isotopes such as carbon 14 to investigations of photosynthesis and in due course presents pioneers of plant physiology. At all points, whether through the history books or personal encounters, Morton depicts the discrete problem that piques a scientist or lends a philosophical cast to his scientific motivations, and he seems especially taken by James Lovelock, author of the so-called Gaia theory. Morton is as insightful observing a single tree as he is explaining plant life’s interconnections with the biosphere and the totality of earth history.

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