Peter A. Ensminger Life Under the Sun

ISBN 13: 9780300088045

Life Under the Sun

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9780300088045: Life Under the Sun
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Which fungus is as sensitive to light as the human eye? What are the myths and facts about the ozone hole, tanning, skin cancer, and sunscreens? What is the effect of light on butterfly copulation? This entertaining collection of essays explores how various organisms—including archaebacteria, slime molds, fungi, plants, insects, and humans—sense and respond to sunlight.

The essays in Peter A. Ensminger’s book cover vision, photosynthesis, and phototropism, as well as such unusual topics as the reason why light causes beer to develop a “skunky” odor. He introduces us to the kinds of eyes that have evolved in different animals, including those in a species of shrimp that is ostensibly eyeless; gives us a better appreciation of color vision; explains how plowing fields at night may be used to control weeds; and tells about variegate porphyria, a metabolic disease that makes people very sensitive to sunlight and may have afflicted King George III of England.

These engaging essays present a complicated yet fascinating subject in an accessible way. The book will be treasured by anyone interested in the wonders of biology.

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Life evolved under the sun, writes Peter Ensminger in this appreciative essay on how various organisms respond to sunlight. No matter where it is found, almost every form of life "has become specialized to sense the quantity, direction, polarization, wavelength, and periodicity of light." Many of the higher mammals, humans among them, have well-developed visual abilities; as Ensminger writes, the range of light encountered during a given day can be likened in magnitude to the height of a small child (about 3 feet) at one extreme as compared with the diameter of the earth (about 7,950 miles) at the other, and the healthy human eye functions over this range and more, even at extraordinarily low light levels.

Vision is, indeed, the most important of our senses. Ensminger notes that "a single glance instantly gives us information about our surroundings that is much more sophisticated than that from our other senses." It is important for countless other species as well; as many as 40 visual systems have evolved separately in invertebrates, following different principles of optical design. In his lively, well-illustrated text, Ensminger offers an overview of these many visual systems, while considering the manifold workings of sunlight. He even explains why you should eat your carrots, and why the old farmer's saw that it's best to plow by moonlight is true. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Peter A. Ensminger is a consultant and medical writer.

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Book Description Yale University Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Condition: New. New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Which fungus is as sensitive to light as the human eye? What are the myths and facts about the ozone hole, tanning, skin cancer, and sunscreens? What is the effect of light on butterfly copulation? This entertaining collection of essays explores how various organisms-including archaebacteria, slime molds, fungi, plants, insects, and humans-sense and respond to sunlight.The essays in Peter A. Ensminger's book cover vision, photosynthesis, and phototropism, as well as such unusual topics as the reason why light causes beer to develop a "skunky" odor. He introduces us to the kinds of eyes that have evolved in different animals, including those in a species of shrimp that is ostensibly eyeless; gives us a better appreciation of color vision; explains how plowing fields at night may be used to control weeds; and tells about variegate porphyria, a metabolic disease that makes people very sensitive to sunlight and may have afflicted King George III of England.These engaging essays present a complicated yet fascinating subject in an accessible way. The book will be treasured by anyone interested in the wonders of biology. Seller Inventory # LHB9780300088045

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