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The Life of a Leaf

4.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  29 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
In its essence, science is a way of looking at and thinking about the world. In The Life of a Leaf,Steven Vogel illuminates this approach, using the humble leaf as a model. Whether plant or person, every organism must contend with its immediate physical environment, a world that both limits what organisms can do and offers innumerable opportunities for evolving fascinating ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 17th 2012 by University Of Chicago Press (first published September 1st 2012)
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Jul 12, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it
Life of a Leaf falls in a small subgenre of pop science books, pet projects of charmingly dorky professors emeritus, things they never had the time to write during their proper research careers. Books like this are a treat because they curate the products of a lifetime of active thought, and because you can feel the authors relax and let loose all the pet hypotheses and ideas for experimentation that never found a place in a grant. Leaf was a special treat for me, since I've read so many pop nat ...more
Aug 15, 2014 Mark rated it liked it
Mostly the physics of leaves, not their molecular biology. I learned many interesting things - that you can float using a wet pillow-case, but not a dry one, why your gas mileage goes down so quickly with increased speed, and a review of the peculiarities of water (the way it adheres to itself, the way its density changes with temperature) that permits life as we know it. Also, why you have to use a dish cloth when you clean dishes; the velocity of a viscous fluid at the luminal surface is zero.
Angela Powell
Dec 04, 2012 Angela Powell rated it it was amazing
A well written book on a very interesting subject. This is a powerful and well-researched book about the leaf. I liked the examples of the leaf that enabled them to adapt to its physical world. The behavior of the leafs in sunlight, in a clear night sky, in air movement are well written. Vogel's everyday observations on leafs are excellent.
Michael Blackmore
Oct 12, 2013 Michael Blackmore rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Excellent book. Mainly focused on the mechanics of plants so a bit of a slog, but really worth it if you read it. Very interesting and complete enhanced by view of trees.
Feb 12, 2015 Fleece rated it it was amazing
best science book, more at 11
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Steven Vogel is James B. Duke Professor, Emeritus, in the Department of Biology at Duke University.

As it has turned out, my activities as a teacher and writer have extended well beyond the explication of the immediate results of research. The first two of my seven books, A F
More about Steven Vogel...

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“When a fluid flows across a solid surface—any fluid, any speed, any surface—the speed of flow at the surface is zero. This is the so-called no-slip condition. Its existence (or nonexistence) occasioned hot debate back in the mid-nineteenth century, but it fits so perfectly with both theory and measurement that it has long outlived any controversy. So where does the real flow begin? Just beyond some molecularly thick layer on the surface, which is to say beyond a negligibly thin layer. But this real flow begins as very slow flow near the surface, gradually speeding up at greater distances until it eventually reaches (put strictly, it approaches) the full speed of stream, bloodstream, or wind—as in figure 4.3” 1 likes
“The no-slip condition makes trouble—if subtle trouble—in our everyday lives. One swipe of a dishcloth works as well as lot of flowing hot water. The dishcloth contacts the dish, sweeping away surface mess; the flowing water doesn’t make such effective contact. Hot water works better than cold, not just because more substances dissolve in hot water, but because hot water has a much lower viscosity; that means more fluid moves close to the dish. Dust accumulates on the surfaces of fan blades; the low flow right near a blade’s surface isn’t enough to dislodge it.” 0 likes
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