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The theory of the rise of sap in trees: some historical and conceptual remarks

Brown, Harvey R. The theory of the rise of sap in trees: some historical and conceptual remarks. Springer, Basel.

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Abstract

The ability of trees to suck water from roots to leaves, sometimes to heights of over a hundred meters, is remarkable given the absence of any mechanical pump. This study deals with a number of issues, of both an historical and conceptual nature, in the orthodox ``Cohesion-Tension'' theory of the ascent of sap in trees. The theory relies chiefly on the exceptional cohesive and adhesive properties of water, the structural properties of trees, and the role of evaporation (``transpiration'') from leaves. But it is not the whole story. Plant scientists have been aware since the inception of the theory in the late 19th century that further processes are at work in order to “prime” the trees, the main such process -- growth itself -- being so obvious to them that it is often omitted from the story. Other factors depend largely on the type of tree, and are not always fully understood. For physicists, in particular, it may be helpful to see the fuller picture, which is what this study attempts to provide in non-technical terms.


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Item Type: Other
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Brown, Harvey R.harvey.brown@philosophy.ox.ac.uk
Additional Information: This is an revised and reformatted version of the published 2013 paper, with corrections and additions
Keywords: Cohesion-Tension theory, rise of sap
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Prof Harvey R Brown
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2014 18:12
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2014 18:12
Item ID: 10608
Journal or Publication Title: Physics in Perspective
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: http://link.springer.com/journal/16
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s00016-013-0117-1
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Page Range: pp. 320-358
Volume: 15
ISSN: 1422-6944
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10608

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