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The Living Clock: The Orchestrator of Biological Rhythms

Popular Science

By: John D Palmer(Author)

162 pages, illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Dec 2002 | #143348 | ISBN: 019514340X
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £15.99 $21/€18 approx

About this book

The Living Clock is an introduction to a basic property of life, one mostly unknown to science and the public until the latter half of the last century: Humans, plants, and animals have within their bodies a kind of clock that synchronizes much of what they do throughout their lives to the time of day and the seasons, and in the case of the sea-dwelling organisms, the tides. This timepiece performs its service autonomously – it rules silently within us without us giving a thought to it.

Three chapters are devoted to the human clock: its disruptive action in transmeridional travel and shift work, its oversight in most every aspect of our physiology, and how doctors being aware of its action can save lives. Other major subjects describe the role in piloting birds in homing and migration, guiding the seasonal reproduction of plants and animals, and its influence on shore dwellers. The Living Clock closes with a description of the clockworks' escapement.

"Palmer has written a whimsical, 'gosh can you believe that' account for the interested lay reader, which is also a book that will further fascinate serious chronobiologists with the wonders of their subject. It is a reminder of the marvels of nature and of the critical role that endogenous biological timing plays in the life cycles of almost every organism."
– C.P. Kyriacou, Science

"Its rare to be able to recommend a book on science for holiday reading, but this one, The Living Clock, is a griper from the first page and never lets go [...] The topic is fascinating: the internal clocks that we all possess in common with almost every form of life on Earth [...] Take it with you to the beach."
– Roy Herbert, New Scientist

"Anyone fortunate enough to read Professor Palmer's new book will not only appreciate the crucial role of rhythms in all of life's forms, but will be greatly entertained, and even astonished, by the wonderful tales woven into the plot."
– John Carlson Aldrich, Dep


- Introduction to Rhythms and Clocks
- Human Rhythms: Basic Processes
- Rhythmic Pharmacology
- Jet Lag Can Be a Drag
- Daily Rhythm in Single-Cell Organisms
- Rhythms in Shore Dwellers
- Some Animal Rhythms
- A Few Plant Clocks
- Denouement: The Living Clock

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