Artificial Photosynthesis: Background information when reading Solar

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Solar

By Ian McEwan

Solar

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Beyond the Book:
Artificial Photosynthesis

Much of the science upon which Beard stakes his reputation (even though he may have gleaned it unethically) deals with the concept of artificial photosynthesis, a real proposed solution to energy consumption problems, one that Beard himself explains eloquently and convincingly in a speech to a group of businesspeople and investors. When he first encounters the idea, Beard calls it "brilliant or insane," but regardless of his ambivalence, artificial photosynthesis is a proposal that is very much under discussion as one of the potential answers to the mounting questions about where humans will draw their energy in years to come.

Essentially, artificial photosynthesis does what plants have been doing for the last 2.8 billion years or so: using the energy from the sun to convert compounds from one form to another. Plants use the energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar (with extra oxygen left over). Artificial photosynthesis uses the energy from the ...

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