Some species like it hot and some like it cold, and biopsychologist Blumberg explains why in this somewhat jargon-laden exploration of how temperature defines the existence of everything on earth, from the Antarctica ice mass to deep ocean bacteria, from babies in the womb to plants that can melt snow. Despite clever chapter headings "Then Bake at 98.6F for 400,000 Minutes"; "Cold New World"; "Fever All Through the Night"; "Livin' off the Fat" the author's prose can sometimes be heavy going and even patronizing, particularly in early chapters when he attempts to explain the various laws of thermodynamics. But a reader's perseverance will pay off. By braiding together a spectrum of disciplines including anthropology, ecology, physics, geography, medicine and psychology Blumberg investigates how extremes of heat and cold dictate life's limits; by book's end, he has constructed an engrossing, fact-filled account of why all life is merely a matter of degrees. Among those facts: why hot peppers make us sweat, how fire walking works, the evolutionary roots of goose bumps and genital hair, and the function of fevers. He also notes connections between temperature and such human conditions as sleeplessness, jet lag, sex determination, anorexia and sudden infant death syndrome, information that makes the book more than just a collection of intriguing anecdotes. One hot topic not covered is global warming, though Blumberg alludes throughout his otherwise illuminating text to how fragile everything on earth is.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is a real treat. Mark Blumberg takes something we normally hardly think about, and makes it into a fascinating topic, with colorful examples from fields as disparate as etymology and entomology. You probably will be repeating many of the stories he tells to those around you, as you discover why a fever may be good for you, or how babies generate their own heat, or how eating disorders interact with body temperature problems. It's entertaining, interesting, and great fun. (Michael Leon, University of California, Irvine)
This is an engaging enchilada of a book, wrapping up cold feet, a warm heart, hot sex, and chili peppers, for easy digestion by the general science consumer. Delicious! (Bernd Heinrich, University of Vermont, and author of The Hot-Blooded Insects: Strategies and Mechanisms of Thermoregulation
There's a little twinkle in Mark Blumberg's eye as he explains the role of temperature in life on Earth, that essential gleam that makes books about science successful and appealing...His writing is clear, a fine balance of explanation, example and ideas. (Susan Salter Reynolds Los Angeles Times Book Review
The need to maintain body temperature within a narrow range is the biggest single influence on physiology and behaviour, as Mark Blumberg explains in this little gem of a book, Body Heat
...Blumberg describes the exquisite mechanisms developed by different species to generate, conserve or lose body heat. (John Bonner New Scientist
This is one of those books that leaves you for a few heady days in possession of a new key to all mysteries. Written entertainingly for a popular audience, the book argues that the evolved behaviour and physical characteristics of most creatures, from the tiniest nematode worm to the largest whale, is governed by the need to maintain a comfortable body temperature. (Emma Crichton-Miller The Telegraph
Blumberg...presents a thoroughly interesting book on body temperature and its many influences, loaded with a marvelously broad range of topics related to the biology of body temperature. From structural adaptations, such as ear size, circulatory patterns, and body shape that have evolved to help maintain body temperature, to psychological effects of temperature, the physiology of fevers, and even sexual-thermal metaphors used in everyday conversation. A host of fascinating aspects of how species respond to temperature changes are also discussed...Body Heat
is great reading, certain to produce an enlightened appreciation for how body temperature control is critical for all organisms. (M. A. Palladino Choice
Mark S. Blumberg, in Body Heat
, also takes the role of temperature in human affairs onto a global stage, but his metaphors, languages and conclusions are neither biblical nor prophetic. Instead he wants to remind us just how narrow our margins of tolerance are against that ultimate enemy: cold...Blumberg loves his subject, is convinced of its importance, and he wants to put across the intrinsic interest of temperature physiology to a larger audience. He retains a light touch--and because he is an active researcher in his own right, is able to bring new information and new insights to his pages. (Jonathan Kingdon Times Literary Supplement
This is a marvelous little book. In a volume no larger than a pocket field guide, Mark Blumberg explains how mammals and some other organisms maintain high, nearly constant body temperatures, and then explores many implications of such body heat...Along the way he expounds on a wide variety of fascinating topics, including behavioral thermoregulation and the design of Roman baths, temperature-dependent sex determination in turtles, 'warm-blooded' insects and flowers, how and why bird brains and mammalian testicles stay cool, the adaptive role of fever, the relation of energy balance to dieting and obesity, and even why chili peppers taste hot...Blumberg's writing is a work of art. He explains scientific facts and complicated concepts in clear, simple language. He conveys his own sense of wonder, excitement, and curiosity...If you are interested in mammals, biology, natural history, or psychology, you will enjoy reading this little book. (James H. Brown Journal of Mammalogy
In Body Heat
, biophysicist Mark Blumberg's exploration of temperature in the world considers the many ways temperature rules the lives of animals, from how penguins survive Antarctic winters to why people survive drowning accidents in winter, but not in summer. Packed with important scientific insights and a lively style which lends to leisure browsing, Body Heat
is a remarkable survey. (Bookwatch