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Hardcover Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth Book

ISBN: 067400762X

ISBN13: 9780674007628

Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good*

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Book Overview

Whether you're a polar bear giving birth to cubs in an Arctic winter, a camel going days without water in the desert heat, or merely a suburbanite without air conditioning in a heat wave, your comfort... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Packed with important scientific insights and a lively style

In Body Heat : Temperature And Life On Earth, biophysicist Mark Blumberg's exploration of temperature in the world considers the many ways temperature rules the lives of animals, from how penguins survive Antarctic winters to why people survive drowning accidents in winter, but not in summer. Packed with important scientific insights and a lively style which lends to leisure browsing, Body Heat is a remarkable survey and a highly recommended selection for Environmental Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

Fascinating and fun

Get ready to embark on a truly exciting and entertaining round-the-world voyage of discovery. And it won't take 80 days, either. In just 215 pages and in beautiful prose, Mark Blumberg explains the vitally important connection between temperature and life on Earth.Body Heat not only answers questions that I've always wondered about but also answers questions that I've never even thought to ask. For example, before I read this book, I didn't know how Antarctic fish survive (answer: antifreeze in their blood) or how male penguins manage to incubate eggs while enduring temperatures of -76 degrees F (answer: I won't spoil it for you). On the opposite end of the thermometer-at 185 degrees F-is the bacterium that thrives within hydrothermal vents more than one mile below the surface of the ocean. As the author so rightly puts it, "These are the true athletes of the extreme." And then there are the enlightening discussions about those aspects of our lives that are much closer to home - thermostats, peppers, sleep, fevers, dogs, obesity, anorexia, language, behavior, and babies, just to name a few. It's amazing how much information can be shared when the language is clear and purposeful.As told in this treasure of a book - with humor ("Pluto is cold; Chicago in January is merely inconvenient"), a passion for his subject, and a marvelous ability to draw on diverse subjects as well as personal experiences to tell this story - the tale of temperature and life on Earth is fascinating indeed.

Thoroughly Enjoyable

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. The publisher's weekly reviewer's criticism is misdirected. I guarantee that you will enjoy this book, and annoy the hell out of your friends/family quoting them little tidbits. I particularly enjoyed the author's discussion of the design of experiments, in his lab and in the lab's of other scientists, for various purposes. Highly recommended.

A Cool Guide to Temperature Control

Humans, fish, polar bears, and lizards do all the stuff animals do; it is no surprise to hear about their eating, reproducing, breathing, and so on. But there is an activity common to all animals that does not always involve behavior that can be seen, and so despite its universality, it is invisible or taken for granted. It is the need to maintain a comfortable body temperature, and it is one of the great strivings of animals. In _Body Heat: Temperature and Life on Earth_ (Harvard), Mark S. Blumberg demonstrates just how important regulating temperature is, showing that it is directly connected to anatomy, behavior, human history, language, and much more. A reader may come away from this book feeling that the drive to stay warm or stay cool explains many of the mysteries of animal and human behavior.Temperature regulation is intimately connected, for instance, with animal size. Small animals lose heat disproportionately faster than large ones, and so are more likely to have fur, active lives and metabolic rates, and shorter lives. Birds and mammals make their own heat, but in a way, reptiles do, too, as if they have the chance to wander to different temperature zones, they will keep themselves within narrow boundaries of temperature. Even lice and nematodes will do so. Temperature has plenty to do with sex. (Blumberg repeatedly demonstrates in this sphere and others that our language reflects a basic interest in matters Fahrenheit. English is not the only language to refer to such things as "the heat of passion" or "I've got the hots for you.") There is literal heating of different body parts during sexual stimulation. Not only during sex, but at all other times, different parts of the body take on different temperatures. This is often done with a remarkable mechanism called "countercurrent heat exchange" which shows up all over the animal kingdom. Basically it involves sending blood through a pool that can pre-warm or pre-cool it, as is needed by its final destination. There is an important chapter on fever. It took a surprisingly long time for people to realize that fever is a good thing, a response of the body that helps in healing, rather than a symptom that has to be cured. Such a finding was first reliably sparked by experiments on iguanas, of all things.This is a wide-ranging and informative book. Blumberg explains the many different experiments that have brought us to our understanding of body heat, and draws from many examples in natural history. He has written a diverting and lucid book, which has good humor throughout. It is a perfect introduction for the general reader to a vital topic.


I'm so glad that I decided to take this exciting journey with Mark Blumberg. Now, after having read this lively book, it will be impossible for me to look at a baby's fingers wrapped around mine, a huddle of penguins, or an elephant's ears in quite the same way. By explaining the vital role that temperature plays in the creation and perpetuity of all living things, Blumberg has enriched my understanding of and appreciation for life on Earth. From fevers, fire walkers, fish, and flowers to panting, pelicans, penguins, and polar bears, the information is shared in a clear and entertaining fashion. I enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who regulates heat internally.
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