The Living Clock: The Orchestrator of Biological Rhythms

The Living Clock: The Orchestrator of Biological Rhythms


By (author) John D. Palmer


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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 216mm x 25mm | 272g
  • Publication date: 25 May 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 019514340X
  • ISBN 13: 9780195143409
  • Illustrations note: numerous figures
  • Sales rank: 910,112

Product description

This book 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 book closes with a description of the clockworks' escapement.

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Author information

After earning his doctorate at Northwestern in 1962, John Palmer taught at the University of Illinois, and chaired the Biology Departments at New York University, and the University of Massachusetts. He spends most summers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. MA, and has worked at other marine labs around the world. He has done research in the field of chronobiology for 39 years, and has published more books on the subject than any other author.

Review quote

"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, Department of Zoology, Trinity College, Dublin"Everyone knows somebody who claims not to need an alarm clock. These people will tell you that they have woken up every day at 6:00 a.m. for twenty years and don't even bother to set the alarm anymore. How do they do that? In The Living Clock, Professor John Palmer tells us the story of the discovery of the internal clocks which exist in almost every living thing, from bacteria to humans. This book is both a work of scientific popularization and a scientific autobiography since Professor Palmer has personally contributed a great deal to our understanding of the living clock. Professor Palmer's personal annecdotes are, in fact, the highlight of the book. Told with humor but also with a seasoned scientist's keen eye for detail, these stories take us on a journey of discovery."--Marc R. Roussel, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Lethbridge"An erudite and entertaining journey through the world of biologic

Table of contents

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