A Leaf in Time – A Popular Introduction to Photosynthesis


A Leaf in Time by the late David Walker PhD, DSc, FRS, former Emeritus Professor of Photosynthesis at the University of Sheffield. David was a pioneer of the field of photosynthesis, and his papers and books have made a major contribution to present knowledge of plant physiology. He contributed to technical training courses for scientists in many Third World countries. In 1990 he was awarded the Humboldt Prize and made a member of the Academia Europea in 1994. In 2004 he was the recipient of the Int. Soc. of Photosynthesis Research Communication Award.

1) The first book”Leaf in Time” (3.4MB download) is a charming, professional, colourful pdf book on photosynthesis and closely related topics. Using photosynthesis as the link, this beautifully produced book looks at a range of topics of interest to pupils especially at Y5 and 6 (animals and plants are interdependent, process of photosynthesis, greenhouse effect, energy conservation) though it will also be of interest and value to older pupils. Download this from the link on the right.

2) The second book “A NEW Leaf in Time” is a much more personal work and is subtitled “A book about photosynthesis and how green creatures have shaped the world. For readers between nine and one hundred and nine”. It was written by David Walker and is filled with lots of active links to websites and sound bytes. It has been illustrated by his family, it has references to David’s holiday home in Northumberland and the children’s tree-house. “The Prof” and his grandchildren are the characters in the story. It covers everything scientific that a retired professor might wish to communicate to his young grandchildren, complete with humour (which 10 year olds will understand but will certainly make adults smile):

  • Atoms and electrons (electricity)
  • Photosynthesis
  • Photons (light stages of photosynthesis)
  • Light -> electricity -> energy (as sugar)
  • Energy -> electricity -> light
  • Using light to split water
  • Catching CO2
  • Beginning of the world
  • Beginning of life
  • Prokaryotes -> eukaryotes
  • Kingdom, Phylum, Order, Family, Genus, Species
  • Respiration
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Why is the sky blue?
  • Why are leaves green?

It is authoritative and approachable for children. Adults, however will appreciate the numerous links to other sites (eg one outlining how Swann in Sunderland beat Edison to invent the light bulb), soundbytes, literary references etc.

It is a work which will never be finished, as such, but does not need further chapters to be intelligible, useful, approachable and thoroughly enjoyable.

The book is presented here as 7 separate chapters:



Text copyright 2008 David Alan Walker
Illustrations copyright 2008 Richard Walker
Published in 2008 by Oxygraphics – enquiries@oxygraphics.co.uk

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