Iron, Nature's Universal Element: Why People Need Iron and Animals Make Magnets

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Virtually all life on Earth, from bacteria to humans, needs iron to survive.From facilitating oxygen flow in mammals to assisting migrating birds in finding their way south for the winter, iron serves a variety of definitive roles for nearly all living creatures. Our knowledge of iron's role in life is the result of recent discoveries about iron and magnetism in bacteria, in myriad animal and plant species, and in humans. Personal stories of scientists who made these discoveries illustrate a lively interplay ...
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Overview

Virtually all life on Earth, from bacteria to humans, needs iron to survive.From facilitating oxygen flow in mammals to assisting migrating birds in finding their way south for the winter, iron serves a variety of definitive roles for nearly all living creatures. Our knowledge of iron's role in life is the result of recent discoveries about iron and magnetism in bacteria, in myriad animal and plant species, and in humans. Personal stories of scientists who made these discoveries illustrate a lively interplay between molecular biologists, ornithologists, physicists, oceanographers, chemists, geologists, physicians, and ecologists. The authors start with the discovery of iron-rich hot springs on the ocean floor. Was this life's nursery? Other chapters explain why there is iron in our blood and describe how the body safely cages excess iron. The physiology of exercise and genetic blood diseases-sickle cell anemia, hemochromatosis, and the thalassemias-is delineated. One of nature's most dramatic mysteries-the migration of birds, turtles, salmon, and other animals- depends on iron magnets, scientists have recently demonstrated. The bodies of some animals contain minute deposits of magnetite that are sensory navigators. Far reaching in scope, Iron, Nature's Universal Element also looks at global issues, including iron's impact on the Earth's oceans, vegetation, and populations and the low-protein diets that lead to long term cognitive damage in iron deficient children in poor countries.

"Readers will be surprised to find out how exciting the element iron can be. The authors bring us a vast amount of material in a thoroughly understandable way." - Harold Morowitz, Krasnow Institute, George Mason University.

"The story of iron on Earth begins with the role of iron atoms in the formation of our planet and moves through the world of evolving life, primitive microorganisms, and progressively more complicated iron-managing molecules to global systems for migrating animals, fertilizing the surface of Earth, and feeding its human population. From the simple to the complex, from the microscopic to the planetary scale, from the thoroughly understood to current research frontiers, this book follows iron through the biological world. We inherited our dependence on iron from Earth's iron-rich beginnings. This is the story of our legacy of iron and the scientists who are uncovering it." - From Iron, Nature's Universal Element.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Mielczarek (physics, George Mason U.) and science writer McGrayne explore the critical importance of the metal element in life from bacteria to humans. They report on recent discoveries about iron and magnetism in bacteria, in myriad animal and plant species, and in humans, such as that many migrating animals have minute deposits of magnetite inside them that are sensory navigators. They also, of course, discuss the role of iron in mammalian blood and the iron- related diseases of humans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813528311
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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