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

By Claude A. Piantadosi | Go to book overview

17
G Whiz

The human body, like that of all terrestrial animals, evolved under the influence of Earth's gravity. In an evolutionary sense, physiological adaptation to gravity in vertebrate animals has been best exploited by birds. For humans and other ground-dwelling vertebrates, relatively modest deviations above or below normal gravitational field strength disturb physiological homeostasis. Life scientists do not yet agree on the principles that govern physiological effects in greater or lesser gravitational fields than that on Earth. What they do agree on is the importance of the hypothesis that a continuous relationship exists between the effects of extremes of gravity on the body.


The Continuity Principle

The concept that hypergravity and microgravity are two extremes of a spectrum is known as the continuity principle. The issue of whether this principle reflects the true nature of the adaptive responses to high and low gravitational force is being thoroughly scrutinized because it may be critical to the success of longduration space flights. The operating assumption is that the adverse effects of microgravity can be counteracted by acceleration, or hypergravity. Despite a great deal of scientific research, there is no consensus about the utility of the continuity

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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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