"Visionary biologists have advanced a new theory that explains how all the living creatures of the world - from the tiny amoeba to the vast rain forest - are constructed, providing a fresh perspective on the essential interconnectivity of living systems." "This revolutionary theory explains a variety of phenomena, helping us understand why a shrew eats its bodyweight in food each day, why a mammal's heart beats about 1 billion times in its lifetime, why there are no trees as tall as the Eiffel Tower, and why more species live at the Earth's equator than at its poles. By looking at how living things use energy, we can answer these and a myriad of other intriguing questions." In the Beat of a Heart combines biography, history and science, and nature writing to capture the exciting advances - and the people who are making them - that are triggering a revolution as potentially important to biology as Newton's insights were to physics.
Why are there 700 species of North American birds instead of seven? Why do the tropics have more species than the polar regions? If different species-whether tree, bear, or bacterium-are subject to the same physical laws, is there a general unified theory of biology? Freelance science writer Whitfield tackles these questions by exploring the role of energy and metabolism as the unifying force in nature. Writing in an engaging style, he describes the work and lives of key scientists whose often controversial ideas also help contribute answers. While similar to Kevin J. Gaston and Tim M. Blackburn's Pattern and Process in Macroecology, which is suitable for a more academic audience, Whitfield's book does not overwhelm the reader with innumerable scientific studies and details. Instead, it gives a glimpse of the history and science behind the search for a new theory explaining the simplicity and complexity of life. Recommended for all libraries.-Teresa U. Berry, Univ. of Tennessee Libs., Knoxville Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.