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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Heat. What an unsuspected link between far-flung domains of knowledge. In this intriguing exploration of temperature, an eminent physicist convincingly follows the influence of heat upon subjects as diverse as biology, astronomy, history, and international diplomacy.
Along the way, we delve into the history of medicine, from Galen's four humors to the Indian Ayurvedic approach, examining the usefulness of fever. We confront the puzzle of how warm-blooded animals such as ourselves can maintain a constant temperature regardless of external conditions. The detail is fascinating: We learn about the role of heat in Robert Scott's ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic in 1910, in search of the rookery of emperor penguins.
This book is a treat for the general reader, with fascinating ideas to consider and lucid explanations of current scientific thought. Did you know that, in a body at rest, the brain and internal organs produce more than two-thirds of the body's heat, even though they make up less than 10 percent of body mass? Yet everything changes when the body comes into motion -- then the heat that is generated by the muscles can quickly surpass all other sources. And how can it be that a Tour de France bicycle racer, who can blaze along at top speed for eight hours, will fall exhausted off a stationary bike after 60 minutes?
Temperature as a unifying principle: It all comes together beautifully in Gino Segré's inspired account. (Rita Moran)