Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival / Edition 1

Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival / Edition 1

by Frances Ashcroft
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0520234200

ISBN-13: 9780520234208

Pub. Date: 03/18/2002

Publisher: University of California Press

The challenge of scaling the highest mountain, exploring the deepest ocean, crossing the hottest desert, or swimming in near-freezing water is irresistible to many people. Life at the Extremes is an engrossing exploration of what happens to our bodies in these seemingly uninhabitable environments. Frances Ashcroft weaves stories of extraordinary feats of

Overview

The challenge of scaling the highest mountain, exploring the deepest ocean, crossing the hottest desert, or swimming in near-freezing water is irresistible to many people. Life at the Extremes is an engrossing exploration of what happens to our bodies in these seemingly uninhabitable environments. Frances Ashcroft weaves stories of extraordinary feats of endurance with historical material and the latest scientific findings as she investigates the limits of human survival and the remarkable adaptations that enable us to withstand extreme conditions.

What causes mountain sickness? How is it possible to reach the top of Everest without supplementary oxygen, when passengers in an airplane that depressurized at the same altitude would lose consciousness in seconds? Why do divers get the bends but sperm whales do not? How long you can survive immersion in freezing water? Why don't penguins get frostbite? Will men always be faster runners than women? How far into deep space can a body travel?

As she considers these questions, Ashcroft introduces a cast of extraordinary scientific personalities—inventors and explorers who have charted the limits of human survival. She describes many intriguing experiments and shows how scientific knowledge has enabled us to venture toward and beyond ever greater limits. Life at the Extremes also considers what happens when athletes push their bodies to the edge, and tells of the remarkable adaptations that enable some organisms to live in boiling water, in highly acidic lakes, or deep in the middle of rocks.

Anyone who flies in an airplane, sails the high seas, goes skiing or walking in the mountains, or simply weathers subzero winters or sweltering summers will be captivated by this book. Full of scientific information, beautifully written, and packed with many fascinating digressions, Life at the Extremes lures us to the very edge of human survival.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520234208
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
03/18/2002
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
347
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents


CONTENTS

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgements
Introduction


Climbing Kilimanjaro

1. LIFE AT THE TOP (Read excerpts)

Early Accounts of Mountain Sickness; The Ascent of Everest; A Digression on Barometric Pressure; The Perils of Sudden Depressurization; Acute Mountain Sickness; Into Thin Air; Flying High; Acclimatization; Haemoglobin; Lessons from High Altitude Studies; High Life


Taking the Plunge

2. LIFE UNDER PRESSURE (Read excerpts)

The Physics of Pressure; The Earliest Divers; Bubbles in the Blood; Why Don't Sperm Whales Get the Bends?; The Importance of a Slow Ascent; Skin-diving and the Bends; On Entering the Water; Ama: the Fisherwomen of Japan; Imploding and Exploding Organs; Holding Your Breath; Buoyancy; Scuba-diving; The Rapture of the Deep; Too Much of a Good Thing; Blackouts and Bravery; How Far Can You Go?; Living at Depth; Underwater Challenges; Long-term Dangers; Into the Abyss; The World's First Submarine; Life Under Pressure


Getting into Hot Water

3. LIFE IN THE HOT ZONE

Body Heat; feeling the Heat; The Development of the Thermometer; Firewalking and All That; Creatures of Fire; Hot Stuff; Chilling Out; Sweating it Out; The Physics of Heat Transfer; Keeping a Cool had; The Importance of Size and Shape; Heatstroke; Quivering Pigs and Shivering Humans; Fever!; Life without Water; Salt of the Earth; A Hot Cradle for Mankind


Cold Water Blues

4. LIFE IN THE COLD

Fighting Cold; How Cold Can You Go?; Coping with Cold; Frozen to Death; In Arctic Waters; Losing the Balance; Life After 'Death'; On Chapped Hands and Cold Feet; Frostbite; Eskimos and Explorers; The Benefits of Cold; On Penguins and Polar Bears; Life at the Poles


5. LIFE IN THE FAST LANE (Read excerpts)

A Question of Energy; Oxygen Demands; You Are What You Eat; Speed versus Stamina; How Muscle Contracts; Fast Forward; Staying the Distance; Running Down; Working Out; The Ultimate Limits; Gender Issues; Making a Splash; Enhancing Performance; The Olympic Ideal; Animal Magic; Size Matters; Beyond the Limits; Taking the Strain


6. THE FINAL FRONTIER (Read excerpts)

A Brief History of Space Flight; Eyeballs In and Eyeballs Out; The Human Yo-yo; Taking Off; Life Support; Free Fall; Weightlessness; Sleep; Infection; Living in Microgravity; Space Sickness; Paying the Price; Balance Points; Cosmic Radiation; Venturing into the Void; Re-entry; Coming Down to Earth; Whither Next?


7. THE OUTER LIMITS

The Tree of Life; Some Like It Hot; Acid Heads; Helicobacter pylori, the Bacterim that Causes Stomach Ulcers; Basic Needs; A Salty Tale; Life in the Rocks; Troglodytes; Life Without Oxygen; Cool Characters; Life in the Freezer; Suspended Animation; Making Millions from Microbes; Life Beyond Earth?



Notes
A Note on the Units
Further Reading
Index


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