Life on Earth through Photosyntesis


Life on Earth through Photosyntesis

Dialogues on key discoveries and the people behind them

Klaus Möbius, Giovanni Giacometti


Type Dimension Pages Language Year ISBN
BOOK 17x24 280 English 2016 978-88-6923-129-2


Klaus Möbius, Department of Physics, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany,
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion, Mülheim (Ruhr), Germany.

Giovanni Giacometti, Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

Photosynthesis is the most important chemical process for life on Earth. By exploiting sun-light energy, photosynthesis provides all the oxygen we breathe, all the food we eat and all the fossil fuels we burn. This book addresses milestone discoveries in natural and artificial photosynthesis. The discoveries range from the times of alchemy to present-day molecular biology, biophysics and biochemistry for solar-fuel production as renewable energy. The book is written in the “Science-on-Stage” format with vivid, often controversial dialogues between scientists involved, thoroughly mixed with personal memoirs in their historical, political and social context. Only very few contemporary scientific texts are written in the dialogue form used by earlier scientists, such as Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz. Hence, current science students and teachers are no longer confronted and actively engaged in the specific language and rhetoric of science as part of the cultural life. Taking advantage of the resources of dialogue in scientific argument would generally improve our understanding and skills in both science and humanities. The book fosters a growing use of dialogue format to be considered as part of science communication in society as a whole.

• Reflects historic and personal background of key discoveries of solar-energy conversion and storage in photosynthesis, including the discovery of oxygen, the Calvin cycle, the Mitchell chemiosmotic theory, and the Marcus electron-transfer theory
• Presents published and new material on oxygenic, non-oxygenic and artificial photosynthesis including the X-ray crystal structures of bacterial reaction centers and antennas as well as of oxygenic photosystems PS I and PS II
• Includes the latest insights in protein structures, such as the water-splitting enzyme, and the functional control of metabolism in reaction-center proteins by specific sugar matrices, such as trehalose, to enable “life without water” (anhydrobiosis) under desert conditions
• Elaborates on the use of modern spectroscopy methods and specialized analytical and genetic techniques in photosynthesis research on the molecular level
• Presents cutting-edge applications of photosynthesis research, such as “solar-fuel” strategies and “artificial” photosynthesis devices

The dialogues in LIFE ON EARTH THROUGH PHOTOSYNTHESIS grow around eminent discoveries in photosynthesis research and illuminating stories on the people behind them. The book is composed of 13 Scenes, a Prologue, an Intermezzo and an Epilogue. Complicated characters are involved in intense competition. Extreme euphoria alternates with bottomless disappointment in case of failure. The stories are addressing experts and laymen alike, teachers and students, undergraduates, postdoctoral researchers and professors, in short anybody from the general public. They will get acquainted with the history, mystery and beauty behind the technicalities of photosynthetic processes and the analytical techniques to decipher them. From every Scene, the interdisciplinary approach in photosynthesis research becomes strikingly clear, the intimate relationship between studies in structural biology, spectroscopy and molecular theory as unmatched driving force for innovation and knowledge. Ultimately, copying photosynthesis is among the grand scientific and political challenges of the civilized world under the threat of global climate change. In this endeavor, the lines between the sciences and humanities are getting fuzzier than many people might think.
The book is published just at the right time regarding the growing discussion on global climate change and is in line with the United Nations “International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies, 2015”. Its ambition was “to raise awareness of the achievements of light science, its applications, and its importance to humankind to provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health”.

Chemists (physical, organic, inorganic, theoretical); structural biologists; life scientists; physicists (biomolecular, spectroscopy); advanced students, postdoctoral researchers and teachers in these areas

SCIENCE / Chemistry / Physics / Biology / Photosynthesis

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