Human Body: A Visual Guide

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A superb handbook on the marvel that is the human body.

This new Visual Guide provides the latest scientific information on the human body, using microphotography, advanced medical imaging and annotated illustrations. The book reveals all the intricacy and beauty of the human body and shows the structure and functions of all the systems that make up a human being:

  • Circulatory, respiratory, digestive and nervous systems
  • Bones, muscles and skin
  • Sensory and digestive processes
  • Amazing workings of the brain and internal organs.

Human Body is packed with compelling information on the latest developments in modern medical procedures, reproductive technology, transplants, cosmetic surgery and new prosthetics. "FactFiles" are used throughout for quick reference to intriguing and important topics.

The author has created an outstanding and easy-to-access resource to the science of the human body.

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Editorial Reviews

Science Books and Films - Catherine C. Cooper
The aesthetically pleasing hardcover work can be picked up anytime and appreciated by all... McMillan does a phenomenal job... As a scientist studying the human body, I am amazed by the depth of this book... Rarely have I seen a science book so beautiful and, at the same, provide such clear explanations.
Resource Links - Anne Hatcher
Microscopic imaging, realistic photos and illustrations with detailed captions create a compelling read... Immediately this fantastic book grasps your attention. The visual presentation is so colorful and informative that the text quickly becomes a page turner.
American Reference Books Annual - Shannon Graff Hysell
Truly a treat for the eyes. The photographs are vibrant, detailed, and many will be new to the layperson. All of the 11 organ systems are covered in this volume and each system has annotated illustrations and photographs, often including microphotography and advanced medical imaging.
The Science Teacher - Marilyn Marks
[This book's] main attraction is the stunning collection of photographs .... and beautiful color illustrations .... A wealth of information on the human body ... A good reference.
The Midwest Book Review - Library Bookwatch
This [book] offers more visual detail than most ... It's the blend of visual with the information which makes complex scientific concepts ... so clear, making this a solid pick for high school to general-interest libraries.
Science News
Unusual reference guide to human anatomy... full of vivid illustrations and photographs.
Taste for Life - Elaine Ambroise
Simply a beautiful book... Informative and fascinating, Human Body is full of vital facts on recent developments in medicine... a comprehensive reference you'll use again and again.
Winnipeg Free Press
Firefly has produced another beautiful science book for the reference library. Filled with full-colour scientific illustrations and photographs (including some amazing microscopic shots) ... this is an informative guide ... Written in plain, but not unsophisticated, language ... this straightforward book is ideal for biology buffs aged 12 and beyond.
Halifax Chronicle Herald - Jodi DeLong
In-depth... accurate... Firefly's Visual Guide series always provides excellent explanations.
VOYA - Christine Sanderson
In this visual guide to the human body, stunning images capture the reader's interest from the outset. Advances in modern science and photography allow for the viewing of even small viruses. From a photograph of a dividing cervical cancer cell to an illustration of the microstructure of muscle fiber, the graphics take the reader through all of the body's wonders, including senses, nerves, hormones, respiration, circulation, digestion, and reproduction. Although the images dominate the book, there is an equal amount of text, written with both the casual reader and the science enthusiast in mind. Definitions of terms clarify things for those with limited background: "Hundreds of billions of nerve cells, called neurons, are the nervous system's workhorses." Further explanations offer technical details for those more advanced: "Produced commercially, monoclonal antibodies are made by B cells that are descended from a single parent cell." As up-to-date as possible given such a rapidly changing field of knowledge, the book contains examples of various health concerns from the Asian tsunami to Hurricane Katrina. Included are discussions of gene therapy and the human genome project, as well as a fact file summarizing necessary information and two time lines, one detailing human development and one listing scientific discoveries. This book would be an outstanding reference for junior or senior high school libraries, appealing to any student interested in human biology.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554071883
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/13/2013
  • Series: Visual Guides Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Beverly McMillan is a U.S.-based writer whose special interest is in making human biology and natural history accessible to the general reader. She is the co-author of a best-selling college text on human biology, and her published work also includes books on sharks and other ocean creatures, the Titanic and a children's book on Apollo astronaut Alan Bean.

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Table of Contents

Introduction From the outside in

  • Building blocks: cells and tissues
  • The skin we're in
  • Below the skin's surface
  • Derivatives of the skin
  • The skin under siege
  • Skin as self
  • The three kinds of muscle groups
  • Skeletal muscles: 600 strong
  • Tendons and ligaments
  • How muscles move bones
  • Whole muscles at work
  • Strength, tone and fatigue
  • Making the most of muscles
  • The nature of bone
  • The dynamic life of a bone
  • The skeleton
  • Limbs: the "hanging" skeleton
  • Linking bone to bone
  • The skeleton under siege
  • Body cavities and linings
Control and communication
  • The nervous system
  • Master control: the central nervous system
  • Neurons: the great communicators
  • Nerves: long-distance messengers
  • Neural pathways
  • The peripheral nervous system
  • The spinal cord
  • The brain
  • Consciousness, memory and emotions
  • Language and speech
  • Endocrine controls
  • Hormone signals
  • The hypothalamus and the pituitary
  • Insulin and its kin
  • Corticoids
  • Sex hormones
  • The powerful thyroid
  • Hormones from the heart, gut and elsewhere
  • Hormones and the environment
Sensing the world
  • Humans as sensory creatures
  • Responding to a stimulus
  • Sensory pathways
  • Touch and pressure
  • Pain and its perception
  • The sense of smell
  • The sense of taste
  • Sound waves and the ear
  • Hair cells and hearing
  • A sense of where you are
  • Light and vision
  • Eyes: build to manage light
  • The photoreceptors
  • Interpreting visual signals
  • Sight under siege
Breath, blood and defense
  • The breath of life
  • Exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen
  • The mechanics of breathing
  • Breathing controls
  • Blood: the all-purpose transporter
  • Red blood cells
  • White blood cells
  • Why and how blood clots
  • The cardiovascular system
  • The heart: two pumps in one
  • Heartbeat: the cardiac cycle
  • The heart's pacemaker
  • Dual circuits of blood
  • Blood pipelines
  • Return transit to the heart
  • The cardiovascular system under siege
  • The lymphatic system
  • Hidden enemies
  • Defensive strategies
  • The inflammation response
  • Immune responses
  • Recognizing the invader
  • Antibodies
  • Killer cells and other defenders
  • Medical immunology
  • The immune system under siege
Nourishment and maintenance
  • The body in balance
  • From food to nutrients
  • The digestive system
  • The digestive journey begins
  • The multipurpose stomach
  • Enzymes
  • The liver
  • Accessory organs
  • The small intestine
  • The large intestine
  • Hormones and hunger
  • The essential nutrients
  • Body weight: the energy equation
  • Our fluid interior
  • The urinary system
  • Maintaining a balance of water and salt
  • The blood in balance
  • A warm-bodied heritage
  • Body heat
  • The reproductive imperative
  • The female reproductive system
  • The remarkable egg
  • The male reproductive system
  • The remarkable sperm
  • Uniting sperm and egg
  • Pregnancy
  • Development begins
  • The dynamic early embryo
  • Prenatal life
  • Birth
  • Transitions from infancy to adulthood
  • Aging
  • The genetic basis of life
  • Dividing cells, multiplying chromosomes
  • Genes and inheritance
  • Single-gene and polygenic traits
  • Dominant and recessive traits
  • Gene mutations
  • Mapping the human genome
  • Cancer: a genetic disease
  • Gene therapy


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The human body is a natural wonder. Its unique blend of bones and muscles, nerves and sense organs, skin and linings, and many other components make up a whole that far exceeds the sum of its parts. These parts are integrated and interconnected, with individual cells organized into tissues, tissues into organs, and organs into organ systems, such as the heart and blood vessels or the lungs and airways. In all, it takes the coordinated functioning of eleven organ systems simply to keep each of us alive. Much of the responsibility for managing these activities falls to the human brain, dazzling in its complexity, as it also bestows capacities such as complex reasoning, memory, emotions and self-expression through language and creativity. Exactly how the brain accomplishes these feats continues to be one of the enduring mysteries of human existence.

Another marvel is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which provides in chemical code the instructions needed to build and operate each individual. The stuff of our genes, DNA is the foundation both for day-to-day functioning of tissues and organs and for the inner and outer features that make each person biologically unique.

The ebb and flow of life-sustaining processes — breathing, the heart's rhythmic pumping, digesting food and eliminating wastes, fighting off microbes — take place in a state of dynamic balance called homeostasis. Every sniffle, ache, or more serious illness or disorder reflects a short- or long-term shift away from some aspect of this balance.

Balance, astonishing complexity, intricately choreographed activities of its parts — this is the remarkable universe of the human body.

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