The importance of plants to humanity began long before we felled our first grass-fed woolly mammoth. For more or less the first half of its life, the Earth oliver morton science writer jobs very little oxygen in its atmosphere. We cannot understand what impact our activity will have on the climate unless we take into account how plants will react to - and possibly exacerbate - alterations in the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles.
In the second section of Eating the Sun, Morton shifts perspective from the lifetime of the individuals who cracked photosynthesis in the 20th century to the lifetime of the planet - 4.
The trick, then, is to develop telescopes that can detect oxygen in the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars. To make use of the energy locked up in our food we need oxygen.
Plants not only give us food and oxygen, but help to regulate the greenhouse gases that keep the planet at a habitable temperature. Meanwhile there are more pressing questions. Mountains, canyons, plains and valleys, all a faded pink ochre, an even tone as plain as a colour can be without being grey.
Trapping energy, storing and releasing it is all about transferring electrons along chains of molecules, and Morton enlivens what can at times be a hard read by vividly describing the passions and rivalries that drove the scientists who tracked these elusive games of pass the parcel.
Along the way, nature constantly surprised them: They do this through a chemical miracle called photosynthesis. Argyre and Hellas and Isidis. Schiaparelli and Antoniadi, Kasei and Nirgal. If people had moved across the pinkish ochre - if they had grown vines on the terrace of Olympus, or herded goats through the Labyrinths on the Night - then it would be easy.
There are creases and stretch marks, straight lines and strange curves. You might think you know all about photosynthesis from secondary school biology lessons.
They show volcanoes that dwarf their earthly cousins in age and size. But from the earliest years of the 20th century, scientists were not satisfied with this cookery-book approach, and neither is Morton.
No histories and no legends. Unlike many in the green movement, he is willing to put his faith in technology to solve the problem, but only given a massive investment of resources and political commitment.
You know that carbon dioxide plus water plus energy from the sun equals glucose plus oxygen.
There are circles and circles and circles. Living bodies need fuel in the form of food to drive all their activity, and it is green plants that convert the energy from the sun into the starches and sugars that we and every other living creature, animal or plant exploit for food.
Just features, features and names. Astrobiologists tend to agree that whatever forms life might take, on Earth or elsewhere, it will always need oxygen. In his final section Morton looks at the planet since the industrial revolution - the lifetime, perhaps, of an average tree.contribution Subscribe Find a job Jobs.
· Oliver Morton is a writer and journalist. He is a former editor of the Economist's science and technology section and. Oliver Morton, Actor: Dvizhenie vverkh. Born Louis Oliver Morton III in Knoxville Tennessee. Grew up in Gatlinburg Tennessee in the heart of Born: May 02, Read Oliver Morton's bio and get latest news stories and articles.
The writer was Paul Wolfowitz, science The Peculiar Math. These are the technologies of geoengineering—and as Oliver Morton argues in this visionary book, The Planet Remade explores the history, --Science News.
Oliver Morton is The Economist‘s briefings editor. He specialises in the energy business, climate science and policy, mi-centre.com. Technology is often viewed as a threat to jobs. US Writer-at-Large: Sam Tanenhaus.
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