The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments

By Claude A. Piantadosi | Go to book overview

7
Tolerance to Heat

The dispersion of heat is driven by the universe's thermodynamic imperative, against which rage the furnaces of animal homeothermy. Body heat offers the scythe of speed to animals of advanced phylogeny. In the current animal kingdom, however, only birds and mammals are able to maintain a body temperature that is substantially warmer than their surroundings. Lower animals are cold-blooded, or poikilothermic, which means internal body temperature fluctuates with ambient temperature. Warm-blooded animals are homeothermic because they maintain a constant internal body temperature (core temperature) that is higher than the average temperature of the environment in which they live. This characteristic, which in cooler climates has a strong survival advantage, results from the ability to conserve the metabolic heat every cell in the body generates during the process of homeostasis.


Mammalian Homeothermy

Most warm-blooded animals maintain a resting internal body temperature within a very narrow range, usually within 2°C or 3°C of basal temperature. This homeothermy is maintained at a wide range of environmental temperatures both above and below the regulated temperature. Tight regulation of body temperature is common to birds and mammals, including humans, and it requires an advanced

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The Biology of Human Survival: Life and Death in Extreme Environments
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xi
  • 1: The Human Environment 1
  • 2: Survival and Adaptation 10
  • 3: Cross-Acclimation 21
  • 4: Food for Thought 29
  • 5: Water and Salt 41
  • 6: Water That Makes Men Mad 54
  • 7: Tolerance to Heat 63
  • 8: Endless Oceans of Sand 78
  • 9: Hypothermia 89
  • 10: Life and Death on the Crystal Desert 99
  • 11: Survival in Cold Water 119
  • 12: Air as Good as We Deserve 129
  • 13: Bends and Rapture of the Deep 140
  • 14: Sunken Submarines 152
  • 15: Climbing Higher 164
  • 16: Into the Wild Blue Yonder 181
  • 17: G Whiz 193
  • 18: The Gravity of Microgravity 203
  • 19: Weapons of Mass Destruction 212
  • 20: Human Prospects for Colonizing Space 227
  • Bibliography and Supplemental Reading 247
  • Index 255
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