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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stories and good science
I love this book.
It is a fascinating insight into how the human body copes with extremes of heat and cold, heights and depths, etc. Frances AShcroft explains how our biology copes with these extremes.
And it is not just the biology. The book is full of little stories. There are stories that make me squirm, and say "Stop! Don't tell me any more!" And...
Published on 30 Oct. 2001

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating subject made hard work of
As a scientist who spends a great deal of time at altitude and in the cold I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. Now that I am reading it, my interest in the subject will keep me going to the end, but will require almost super-human effort. This really is 'reading at the extremes'.
Maybe it's the fault of the editor and not the author. However the...
Published on 17 May 2005 by Michelle


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great stories and good science, 30 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Paperback)
I love this book.
It is a fascinating insight into how the human body copes with extremes of heat and cold, heights and depths, etc. Frances AShcroft explains how our biology copes with these extremes.
And it is not just the biology. The book is full of little stories. There are stories that make me squirm, and say "Stop! Don't tell me any more!" And then I just have to read the next one. And there are other stories that cause me to wonder, like the scientists who carry out experiments on themselves, experiments that lead to all sorts of suffering.
The great thing is this: while I am reading all these stories about life at the extremes, I am also absorbing a lot of basic information about how our bodies work normally, almost without realising I am learning. I was talking to someone about this book, and I started to rabbit away about what happens in an aircraft if it suffers explosive decompression - I was surprised at what I was able to tell my pals.
This book is full of wee stories, gruesome, outrageous, fascinating, inspiring.
It is a brilliant source of tales to tell in the pub.
It is very informative about human physiology, and also history.
To Paul and Shula who gave me this book for my birthday - thanks indeed. Its great.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you love to learn!, 10 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Hardcover)
This is so fascinating everybody will want to take Frances Ashcroft's physiology course at Oxford! OK, maybe you didn't get into Oxford, but don't worry, even if you are merely the average "gentle reader" you'll learn a terrific amount about the human machine from "Life at the Extremes". And it will probably stick because the extremes provide built-in vividness which Ashcroft exploits beautifully with a lucid and personable writing style. Hearts and lungs and limbs and highs and lows - you'll gain new respect for the enormous flexibility of our body systems. And you'll learn directly where the body's limits come from. Like everybody, I know water boils at lower temperatures as heights, but hadn't thought about what that means in the lungs. It's not trivial. Atop Everest, water vapor from body fluids takes up 19% of the lung space compared to 6% at sea-level. Less space for oxygen! Along the way, learn about a bona fide human aura (see the Schlieren photograph of a naked human) - guaranteed non-flakey. Given that most of us live where humans can't survive year-round without creating special survival environments, "the science of survival" isn't just for the elite. Thankfully, Frances Ashcroft makes this science accessible and immensely enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most enjoyable read; clear reasons for stressful situations, 1 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Hardcover)
Fascinating examples of stressful situations in which humans may find themselves, with the physiological explanation presented in a highly accessible fashion. Extremely well-written, very much for both non-scientists and scientists, but particularly useful for the sportsman or woman who would like to know why their body reacts as it does to a range of conditions such as high or low pressure, excess or paucity of oxygen, extreme heat or cold, and so on. Great fun!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating stuff for the non-scientist, 29 Aug. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Hardcover)
As I read this book I realised how much fascinating stuff I didn't know about our environment.And the great beauty of Frances Ashcroft's book is that she makes it all accessible to the ordinary reader,with exciting stories and lucid explanations that the non-scientist can understand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars enthralling popular science, 11 Mar. 2010
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Paperback)
Approached this book with some trepidation after reading some of the other reviews even though had been thinking of reading this for some time. Was expecting it to be 'weighty' and dull.

To my surprise found the authors style of writing very engaging, each chapter having a wonderfully written vivid account of her personal experience of a particular extreme experience.

The book provides a rich, informed account of some complex physiological responses to differing environmental extremes, woven through with history, natural history and every page full of surprising and very enlightening information about the marvelous adaptibility and limitations of the human body.

I would highly recommend this book

A real life saver!!!!?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good science read, 16 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Paperback)
Really interesting read even for those not a great science fan.

Some parts require thinking but the book takes you straight through each topic explaining in a very logical manner.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating subject made hard work of, 17 May 2005
By 
Michelle (Ennetbaden, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Paperback)
As a scientist who spends a great deal of time at altitude and in the cold I had been wanting to read this book for a long time. Now that I am reading it, my interest in the subject will keep me going to the end, but will require almost super-human effort. This really is 'reading at the extremes'.
Maybe it's the fault of the editor and not the author. However the author set out to write a science book for the general reader but the book reads like the worst kind of science text book. Concepts and laws that I am already familiar are described in a confusing and unclear manner.
Anecdotes are left hanging 'Tragedies still occur, however... One well-publicized disaster was that of Chris and Chrisy Rouse, a father and son team with considerable diving experience, who died of decompression sickness in 1992 while exploring the wreck of a German U-boat.' That's all the author says. Not what happened or why, or went wrong and why. What the anecdote is illustrative of or what connects the anecdote to the preceding paragraph.
The science is sound, but presented in such a muddled manner as to be over complicated and off putting. 'The lowest barometric pressure at which the normal oxygen concentration of the lungs (100 Torr) can be maintained when breathing pure oxygen is about 10,400 metres...' The paragraph sets out to tell us the lowest barometric pressure and gives us the answer in altitude. Useful information can, of course, be extrapolated from this but in a book written for the general reader I wouldn't expect to have to.
If you are medically qualified and want to begin to extend your knowledge and interest into this subject area then this book would be a good springboard for further reading. If you are a more general reader, I recommend you seek out an alternative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect - Good Read, 21 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Hardcover)
A purchase for my University course with particular highlight to adaptive physiology. A great read and not too hard a read either. You are able to learn about altitude and other earthly extreme without feeling like you're being taught, more that you're just reading a nice book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life at extremes, 28 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Paperback)
Very happy with this book, was quick delivery and is a very interesting read. Will really help me with my uni module thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars Geeky interesting, 9 May 2013
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This review is from: Life at the Extremes (Hardcover)
A great book in very readable chapters. A great deal of information, well written. I have now bough 3 to share with friends and family
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Life at the Extremes
Life at the Extremes by Frances Ashcroft (Paperback - 2 July 2001)
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