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Self-illuminating creatures have drawn curiosity since time immemorial, but only a few researchers have conducted experiments to discover the source of their glow. One Raphaël Dubois determined in 1887 that it's a chemical reaction, the exact components of which eluded the best efforts of Princeton professor Edmund Newton Harvey. Enter the hero of the authors' story: Osamu Shimomura. A teenage survivor of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki, he emerged from the ruins as a young biologist in the mid-1950s who had no strong idea of what to study. Handed bluish extract of sea flies by his boss, who added lapidary guidance—'We know nothing about this, just that it glows'—Shimomura solved the problem in a few years. Shimomura's eureka moment is well drawn by the authors, as is their explanation of the chemistry of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) Shimomura isolated. GFP has become a lucrative favorite of biotechnologists, who transformed the study of neural tissue by inventing GFP markers. Writing with warmth and optimism, Pieribone and Gruber will fascinate budding biochemistry students.
— Gilbert Taylor