I was introduced to Dr Sonke Johnsen s work during my Junior High years At the time, I had a budding interest in marine biology, and decided to attend his presentation about bioluminescence at the Whitney Lab in Florida Since then, we ve shared and corresponded about various marine biology related topics via email scuba diving, lab experiments and equipment, aquariums, underwater photography, et cetera.When Dr Johnsen mentioned that he was writing a book, The Optics of Life , I decided to order it when it became available on Reading Optics, I had an enjoyable time discovering connections between physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology, and thanks to his personable sense of humor such as, in the introduction to animal coloration, Dr Johnsen remarks, Maybe now they teach reading and math at age five, but when I was a kid, the first thing we learned was that blue and yellow add to make green his narration engaged and entertained me throughout the book.Each chapter contains many helpful diagrams, formulas, and photographs as well a 6 page insert with rich color pictures I feel that these illustrations and aids, coupled with Dr Johnsen s patient and informative writing style, are a boon for both students and instructors in the field of optical science In fact, even casual readers with a moderate knowledge of physics and biology such as myself are unlikely to be swamped by the discussions and mathematics in Optics, as some readers might be by other texts which cover the same subjects Of course, when I take Physics next year, I ll definitely have to reread this book cover to cover, and see how much I understand it s certainly a good motivator Dr Johnsen ends every chapter with a sub section titled Further Reading , in which he recommends texts by other authors for those who wish to further explore a specific topic s that was were condensed but excellently covered into a single chapter It s like the citations at the end of a well written paper in addition to using his own knowledge and experiences to explain rather complicated even esoteric concepts of physics and biology to the reader his book was also constructed with the knowledge and experiences of other respected science authors.What, exactly, causes wet sand to be a darker color than dry sand Why does a beam of light, like from a flashlight, bend at an angle when shone through water How does the scattering of particles relate to the observation that the sky is darker before a storm and lighter during a storm I m sure quite a number of people regardless of whether they study or teach science are itching for an answer to these questions.Well, answers can be found right inside the pages of The Optics of Life It takes a little digging, and for the casual reader, quite a bit of rereading of a section to cement new ideas into your head, but I m sure you ll appreciate your introduction to optical science in the long run.Fiat lux Cybill Optics a field of physics focusing on the study of light is also central to many areas of biology, including vision, ecology, botany, animal behavior, neurobiology, and molecular biology The Optics of Life introduces the fundamentals of optics to biologists and nonphysicists, giving them the tools they need to successfully incorporate optical measurements and principles into their research Sonke Johnsen starts with the basics, describing the properties of light and the units and geometry of measurement He then explores how light is created and propagates and how it interacts with matter, covering topics such as absorption, scattering, fluorescence, and polarization Johnsen also provides a tutorial on how to measure light as well as an informative discussion of quantum mechanics The Optics of Life features a host of examples drawn from nature and everyday life, and several appendixes that offer further practical guidance for researchers This concise book uses a minimum of equations and jargon, explaining the basic physics of light in a succinct and lively manner It is the essential primer for working biologists and for anyone seeking an accessible introduction to optics. Extraordinary From the aurora to zodiacal light, and from animal eyes to zooplankton, this is a book that makes physiologic optics fun S nke Johnsen explains, in language a biologist can understand, the optics of living organisms and biological systems Yes, there are some formulae and some basic and even some complicated physics in the book, but this book fully explains these concepts and does not dwell on the formulae Even the math aficionados among us, though, will find plenty of useful formulae and information in the appendices where needed The text of this book is superb, as it is well written, logical, and brings optics to the biologists, and brings physics to its essence Importantly, this is written with a sense of humor and the chapters are peppered with a dry wit that sometimes makes you smile at the clever phrasing and sometimes makes you laugh out loud This will be considered a reference text for those of us who work with biological systems, and I will be referring to it frequently But, biologists take note, it is far than that It is a text to be read by those non physics science majors who are interested in maintaining their education in optics for S nke adds new concepts as well as reviewing old ones He includes his own work with various biological systems and blends them nicely with older and established concepts S nke has written a book with ten chapters and seven appendices and he covers chapters on light emission, absorption, scattering, scattering and interference, fluorescence, polarization, measuring light and a chapter explaining the concept of light In these chapters he shows the command of and familiarity with a tremendous body of knowledge, and presents it with the teacher s delight of sharing the information with his students Importantly, while the author is clearly very well versed in his field, he is also most humble with his knowledge He recognizes that some physics principles are incompletely understood and that in many cases the understanding of light in nature is an ongoing work in progress Oh, and by the way, he is clearly part of that progress as his own work shows that he is applying these ideas to animals as diverse as plankton to scallops If you are interested in light and its interaction with biological and visual systems, you will like this book If you just want to understand physiologic optics and think you don t know enough physics, don t worry, he will lead you though it and make you smile He is your college professor who can take complex information, make it understandable and fun Really Are you a biologist Need to understand light Start here I am a MSc student in biochemistry and have been looking for a concise and well written introduction to light and light matter interactions to use as reference for teaching others I happened upon this book during a library visit and after reading the first chapter had to purchase it for myself It is wonderfully written and has kept me far interested than a good majority of science reads I strongly recommend this book to anyone in the biological sciences as well as any persons with an interest in optics. Clear and concise, but comprehensive Dr Sonke Johnsen of Duke University also produces amazing scientific papers if you have the time to read them. Delivery was a bit slow but great book Excellent book, but not for those without some prior knowledge of optics.