coauthored with Dave Wessner
Biology isn’t what it used to be. Back when I was a tadpole, studying biology was like mucking about in a swamp. We looked at at structures, classified, memorized, and cut open pickled, fragrant animal cadavers. Since then, biology has, um, evolved into a wild melange of chemistry, information theory, systems thinking, and philosophy. The Cartoon Guide to Biology has its head in the new stuff and its feet planted firmly in the swamp.
This is a modern biology book. Beginning with an account of life’s essential organic chemistry, cell structure, and energy, it goes on to describe how life extracts useful energy from food (cellular respiration and fermentation), how plants and other producers make that food from air, water, and sunlight (photosynthesis), and how DNA stores information to create genetics, gene regulation, and reproduction. The narrative then goes macro to show how interactions between these mechanisms and their environment lead to an immense variety of multicellular organisms with complex organ systems. Finally, we consider systems of species, ecosystems, energy flows and chemical cycles—and what happens when biological systems are disrupted.
The biggest Cartoon Guide ever!
HarperCollins, 320 pages