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 and even survival depend on how well you adapt to extreme temperatures.
In this entertaining and illuminating book, biopsychologist Mark Blumberg explores the many ways that temperature rules the lives of all animals (including us). He moves from the physical principles that govern the flow of heat in and out of our bodies to the many complex evolutionary devices animals use to exploit those principles for their own benefit.
In the process Blumberg tells wonderful stories of evolutionary and scientific ingenuity--how penguins withstand Antarctic winters by huddling together by the thousands, how vulnerable embryos of many species are to extremes of temperature during their development, why people survive hour-long drowning accidents in winter but not in summer, how certain plants generate heat (the skunk cabbage enough to melt snow around it). We also hear of systems gone awry--how desert species given too much water can drink themselves into bloated immobility, why anorexics often complain of feeling cold, and why you can't sleep if the room is too hot or too cold. After reading this book, you'll never look at a thermostat in quite the same way again.
This book is a real treat. Mark Blumberg takes something we normally hardly think about, and makes it into a fascinating topic, with colorful examples from fields as disparate as etymology and entomology. You probably will be repeating many of the stories he tells to those around you, as you discover why a fever may be good for you, or how babies generate their own heat, or how eating disorders interact with body temperature problems. It's entertaining, interesting, and great fun.
This is an engaging enchilada of a book, wrapping up cold feet, a warm heart, hot sex, and chili peppers, for easy digestion by the general science consumer. Delicious!
There's a little twinkle in Mark Blumberg's eye as he explains the role of temperature in life on Earth, that essential gleam that makes books about science successful and appealing...His writing is clear, a fine balance of explanation, example and ideas.
The need to maintain body temperature within a narrow range is the biggest single influence on physiology and behaviour, as Mark Blumberg explains in this little gem of a book, Body Heat...Blumberg describes the exquisite mechanisms developed by different species to generate, conserve or lose body heat.
This is one of those books that leaves you for a few heady days in possession of a new key to all mysteries. Written entertainingly for a popular audience, the book argues that the evolved behaviour and physical characteristics of most creatures, from the tiniest nematode worm to the largest whale, is governed by the need to maintain a comfortable body temperature.
Blumberg...presents a thoroughly interesting book on body temperature and its many influences, loaded with a marvelously broad range of topics related to the biology of body temperature. From structural adaptations, such as ear size, circulatory patterns, and body shape that have evolved to help maintain body temperature, to psychological effects of temperature, the physiology of fevers, and even sexual-thermal metaphors used in everyday conversation. A host of fascinating aspects of how species respond to temperature changes are also discussed...Body Heat is great reading, certain to produce an enlightened appreciation for how body temperature control is critical for all organisms.
Mark S. Blumberg, in Body Heat, also takes the role of temperature in human affairs onto a global stage, but his metaphors, languages and conclusions are neither biblical nor prophetic. Instead he wants to remind us just how narrow our margins of tolerance are against that ultimate enemy: cold...Blumberg loves his subject, is convinced of its importance, and he wants to put across the intrinsic interest of temperature physiology to a larger audience. He retains a light touch--and because he is an active researcher in his own right, is able to bring new information and new insights to his pages.
This is a marvelous little book. In a volume no larger than a pocket field guide, Mark Blumberg explains how mammals and some other organisms maintain high, nearly constant body temperatures, and then explores many implications of such body heat...Along the way he expounds on a wide variety of fascinating topics, including behavioral thermoregulation and the design of Roman baths, temperature-dependent sex determination in turtles, 'warm-blooded' insects and flowers, how and why bird brains and mammalian testicles stay cool, the adaptive role of fever, the relation of energy balance to dieting and obesity, and even why chili peppers taste hot...Blumberg's writing is a work of art. He explains scientific facts and complicated concepts in clear, simple language. He conveys his own sense of wonder, excitement, and curiosity...If you are interested in mammals, biology, natural history, or psychology, you will enjoy reading this little book.
In Body Heat, 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.
- 256 pages
- 5-1/16 x 6-11/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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