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“A gem that sparkles.”—William Bynum, Wall Street Journal What happens during a heart attack? Can someone really die of fright? What is death, anyway? How does electroshock treatment affect the brain? What is consciousness? The answers to these questions lie in the electrical signals constantly traveling through our bodies, driving our thoughts, our movements, and even the beating of our hearts. The history of how scientists discovered the role of electricity in the human body is a colorful one, filled with extraordinary personalities, fierce debates, and brilliant experiments. Moreover, present-day research on electricity and ion channels has created one of the most exciting fields in science, shedding light on conditions ranging from diabetes and allergies to cystic fibrosis, migraines, and male infertility. With inimitable wit and a clear, fresh voice, award-winning researcher Frances Ashcroft weaves together compelling real-life stories with the latest scientific findings, giving us a spectacular account of the body electric.
Looks at the role of electricity in the human body, covering the colorful history of how scientists discovered this role, the current state of knowledge of electrophysiology, and how new discoveries are driving advances in medicine.
We are all familiar with the idea that machines are powered by electricity, but perhaps not so aware that this is also true for ourselves. The Spark of Life is a spectacular account of the body electric, showing how, from before conception to the last breath we draw, electrical signals in our cells are essential to everything we think and do. These signals are produced by some amazing proteins that sit at the forefront of current scientific research - the ion channels. They are found in every cell in Earth and they govern every aspect of our lives, from consciousness to sexual attraction, fighting infection, our ability to see and hear, and the beating of our hearts. Ion channels are truly the 'spark of life'. Award-winning physiologist Frances Ashcroft weaves real-life stories with the latest scientific findings to explain the fundamental role of ion channels in our bodies. What happens when you have a heart attack? Why does an electric eel not shock itself? Can someone really die of fright? Why does Viagra turn the world blue? How do cocaine, LSD and morphine work? Why do chilli peppers taste hot? How do vampire bats sense their prey? Was Mary Shelley right when she inferred that electricity is the 'Spark of Life? Frances Ashcroft explains all this and more with wit and clarity. She introduces a cast of extraordinary personalities whose work has charted the links between molecule and mind over the centuries. She recounts the scientific detective stories involved in the development of our ideas about animal electricity, and shows how these are intimately entwined with our understanding of electricity itself. And she describes how the latest advances have led to the identification, and in some cases the cure, of a new class of disease. Anyone who has ever wondered about what makes us human will find this book a revelation.
'A wonderful book' Bill Bryson 'Ashcroft achieves the sort of rich simplicity most science writers can only dream about ... this book carries the eponymous spark of life' Sunday Telegraph From before birth to the last breath we draw, from consciousness to sexual attraction, fighting infection to the beating of our hearts, electricity is essential to everything we think and do. In The Spark of Life award-winning physiologist Frances Ashcroft reveals the secrets of ion channels, which produce the electrical signals in our cells. Can someone really die of fright? How do cocaine, LSD and morphine work? Why do chilli peppers taste hot? Ashcroft explains all this and more with wit and clarity. Anyone who has ever wondered about what makes us human will find this book a revelation. 'A rare gift for making difficult subjects accessible and fascinating' Bill Bryson 'She communicates complex science with engaging passion and eloquence' Helen Dunmore, Observer 'Compelling and very readable, an excellent writer' Literary Review 'Riveting ... she has a stock of good tales' New Scientist 'Lively, conversational prose, refreshingly accessible to any lay reader ... a positively charged little book' Daily Telegraph Frances Ashcroft is Professor of Physiology at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College Oxford. She is also Director of OXION, a consortium of scientists studying ion channels, the heroes of this book. Her scientific research focuses on how a rise in your blood sugar level stimulates the release of insulin and what why this process goes wrong in diabetes. She has won many prizes for her research, most recently the L'Oreal/UNESCO 2012 Women in Science award. She is also a recipient of the Lewis Thomas Prize for Science Writing for The Spark of Life. Her first book for the general reader was Life at the Extremes: The Science of Survival.
Why can salamanders grow new legs, and young children grow new finger tips, but adult humans can't regenerate? What is the electricity that flows through the human body? Is it the same thing that the Chinese call Qi? If so, what does Chinese medicine know, that western medicine ignores? Dan Keown's highly accessible, witty, and original book shows how western medicine validates the theories of Chinese medicine, and how Chinese medicine explains the mysteries of the body that western medicine largely ignores. He explains the generative force of embryology, how the hearts of two people in love (or in scientific terms `quantum entanglement') truly beat as one, how a cheating heart is also an ill heart (which is why men are twice as likely to die of a sudden heart attack with their mistress than with their wife), how neural crest cells determine our lifespan, and why Proust's madeleines evoked the memories they did. The book shows how the theories of western and Chinese medicine support each other, and how the integrated theory enlarges our understanding of how bodies work on every level. Full of good stories and surprising details, Dan Keown's book is essential reading for anyone who has ever wanted to know how the body really works.
The Body Electric tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the filed of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. He found clues to the healing process in the long-discarded theory that electricity is vital to life. But as exciting as Becker's discoveries are, pointing to the day when human limbs, spinal cords, and organs may be regenerated after they have been damaged, equally fascinating is the story of Becker's struggle to do such original work. The Body Electric explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.
Written with all the power and conviction that made THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED classics of American letters, Ayn Rand's ANTHEM is a hymn to man's independent spirit and to the highest word in the human language -- the word "Ego." ANTHEM tells the story of a man who rediscovers individualism and his own "I" It is a world of absolute collectivization, a world where sightless, joyless, selfless men exist for the sake of serving the State; where their work, their food, and their mating are prescribed to them by order of the Collective's rulers in the name of society's welfare. It is a world which lost all the achievements of science and civilization when it lost its root, the independent mind, and reverted to primitive savagery a world where language contains no singular pronouns, where the "We" has replaced the "I," and where men are put to death for the crime of discovering and speaking the "unspeakable word." ANTHEM presents not merely a frightening projection of existing trends, but, more importantly, a positive answer to those trends and a weapon against them, a key to the world's moral crisis and to a new morality of individualism -- a morality that, if accepted today, will save us from a future such as the one presented in this story.

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