There are good reasons for writing this book with the simple title of C, which is the first and unauthorised biography of carbon, life's central element.
Most of the life processes within and around us involve carbon in one form or another. Carbon in pure form can be both graphite in a pencil, and diamond. It is also the starting point for most of the synthetic materials which pervade modern life. However, the essence of Dag O. Hessen's story is the lifecycle of carbon, the important balance between photosynthesis and cellular respiration, between building and burning.
This book gives us the basis we need for that understanding. It is an informal, well-informed book written with strong personal commitment by one of Norway's best presenters of research and science.
‘This is a brilliant and deep journey into the science, history, and indeed the morality of the Periodic Table's sixth element, carbon. An accomplished scientist and a masterful storyteller, Dag Hessen takes us from the elegance of the Kohi-Noor diamond to the putrescence of cow flatulence, explaining the science behind carbon's connection to our bodies and to our future given it's ongoing impact on global climate. Readers will enjoy the journey while also gaining some philosophical and ethical perspective on the tradeoffs and complexities that are involved as humanity struggles to decarbonize. Carbon – you thought you knew it? Think again and read this book.’
JIM ELSER, BIERMAN PROFESSOR OF ECOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
‘The literary technique is distinctly original. Dag O. Hessen succeeds in creating a piece of accessible literature on the border between science and politics.’
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