The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson – Book Review & Summary
Nov 8, 2021 | Book Review | 0 comments
Wondrous, Mysterious, Us
The human body is a wondrous miracle. From the way it functions as a whole, to the individual parts of the body, we never stop to think and consider how it works. Even scientists and doctors, who devote their lives to studying it, find it profoundly strange, complex, and even baffling at times.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants (2019), by Bill Bryson is an entertaining account of facts that try to explain the functioning of the human body. It helps discover more about the body, right from the various organs such as the heart and brain, down to the hormones that play a vital role in regulating emotions and the sex drive, how sleep plays an ambiguous, role in keeping one healthy. It tells us why it is tough to manage a diet, and what role millions of microbes, living on and inside us, play.
Moreover, it is a journey that each and everyone should embark on to understand their bodies better.
Can We Make A Human?
Scientists have been trying to figure out what would it take to create a human right from scratch.
The UK’s Royal Society of Chemistry took on a bizarre task in 2013 of estimating what it would take to build actor Benedict Cumberbatch. They calculated a requirement of 59 elements, with 6 elements – hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous – needed in large quantities. They estimated a cost of £96,546.79, just for the elements, not counting labour and tax costs.
Another estimate by the US PBS network’s science program Nova estimated the cost of building a human at a mere $168 in 2012.
While the cost of elements can be debatable, it is the actual act of building a human that is still baffling. Even with all the necessary material at hand, how does one create life?
No one has been able to specify where life actually begins. While science has pegged the cell as the essential unit of life, it still cannot explain how they coordinate to make the body function, how the genes and chromosomes in the body have been transmitted from generation to generation in the DNA, how the body survives – like a machine – without needing many repairs for decades and how it runs only on water and food?
The fact that the human body is conscious is a wonder in itself, in addition to the fact that it had evolved from only a few cells in the ocean. The evolution of the human body is a series of wondrous accidents.
A Trillion Microbes
Apart from water and food that the body needs for survival, it would never have even existed without the trillion microbes on and inside it.
About 40,000 species of microbes live in and on our body, of which 900 live in the nostrils alone. The microbes inside the intestines and gut are especially important considering that they give the body 10% of calories by simply breaking down the food we consume. While the human body produces only 20 enzymes, microbes can produce about 10,000 digestive enzymes. The sum of all the microbes on the human body, or the microbiota, practically functions like an organ in itself.
The microbiota contains viruses too. San Diego State University’s Dana Willner states that the human body has about 174 viruses, of which we know only 10%. The microbiota furthermore contains archaea or single-celled microorganisms, which thankfully, do not cause any diseases. It also contains fungi (that have very little effect on the body), and protists (all other microscopic organisms).
Of the trillion microbes that reside, only 1451 are known to be harmful to the body. While it is a good ratio of harmful to harmless, the 1451 disease-causing microbes account for about one-third of all deaths.
Penicillin proved to be an invaluable antibiotic for humanity. Produced in bulk in the US during WWII, it was a fungus that was scraped off a cantaloupe, proving to be highly potent in killing bacteria. All the penicillin we have today descends from that one melon.
While its bacteria-killing function is brilliant, its very efficacy in killing microbes has also proven to be detrimental. Penicillin works on the bad bacteria, true. But it also kills the good bacteria the body needs. Additionally, since bacteria develop resistance over time, increased use of antibiotics render medications ineffective over time.
The real problem though lies in the fact that antibiotics are too commonly prescribed world-over. In the West, an average person receives antibiotics at least 5 to 20 times before reaching adulthood. Antibiotics are being prescribed to farm animals in large quantities too, adding to antibiotic resistance. This is a looming threat and humans are at the mercy of these microscopic organisms.
The Human Brain
There isn’t anything in the world that is more extraordinary than the human brain . The brain, hidden away inside the skull, is strangely soft and made up of 70-85% of water. It is unique and amazing both, by structure and function.
The saying that humans do not use more than 10% of their brains is a myth. Humans not only use the whole brain all the time but also spend about 20% of their entire energy on it. Babies use 65% of their entire energy to keep the brain functioning.
In terms of its size and material, it is no different from the brains of animals such as dogs or hamsters, but its efficiency and uniqueness are attributed to the 86 billion or so neurons it contains that form trillions of connections with each other.
The brain is divided into 3 main sections,
- The Cerebrum – The home of all sensory processing, personality, and emotion, it is split into 2 hemispheres.
- The Cerebellum – Containing more than half of the neurons in the brain, it is responsible for movement and balance.
- The Brainstem – Connecting the brain to the spine and the rest of the body, the brainstem regulates functions such as breathing and sleeping.
- The Hypothalamus – Peanut sized, it controls the chemical functions of the brain and regulates sexual drive, hunger, and thirst, and how we age.
Earlier in the 19 th century, the disciplines of craniometry and phrenology emerged due to the belief of some scientists that the size and shape of one’s head can help deduce some aspects of one’s personality.
While these disciplines were termed bogus later on, it is still true that the human head has many amazing features. The head houses the organs responsible for the 3 key senses – sight, smell, and hearing, which are in turn processed by the brain.
The face has the amazing ability of expressivity. While there is a multitude of expressions, there are 6 universal ones, namely – pleasure, anger, disgust, fear, sorrow, and surprise. Without to ability to independently control the muscles that generate these emotions, no human can fake them.
The Heart And All That Flows Within
Ironically, the heart symbol that is a unanimous expression of love world-over, has no connection to the human heart whatsoever. There is nothing romantic about its shape and neither does it have any connections with emotion. Our notion of its placement to the left of the chest is wrong too.
Yet its remarkability lies in the single, crucial job it does – pumping blood through the body.
Placed more towards the centre, the heart beats an average of 3.5 billion times through an average lifespan and pumps about 260 litres of blood per hour. One powerful thrust of the heart sends blood down 4 feet on average, and then travels back up against gravity, carrying oxygen, transporting chemicals, killing pathogens, eliminating waste and regulating body temperature, all at once! It is a multifaceted function, and a complicated one too, enabling doctors to gain a lot of information through just one blood test.
Blood is made up of four main components.
- Plasma is the main component of blood, containing various chemicals in 90% of water.
- The red blood cells are the oxygen delivery boys.
- White blood cells are the infection-fighting army.
- Platelets help the blood clot and also help in regenerating tissue.
Today, we casually throw around sentences discussing blood transfusions, without realising how complex the procedures that doctors perform really are.
Earlier, blood treatments were emblematic of the lack of knowledge we had about blood. George Washington is an important example of this. During his treatment, doctors had let out about 40% of the blood within 2 days; while the world still thinks he died of a throat infection.
Today, our understanding of blood is much better, enabling us to transfuse, store, and even try to create artificial blood (though with little success). Medical advancements aside, we can rest in the knowledge that the heart will go on… pumping what some of the worlds finest cant completely reproduce yet!
Hormones are truly mysterious. Though they lie in one part of the body, they have the ability to cause effect in another part, by delivering chemicals to different parts of the body. Hormones are diverse and scientists have only recently begun studying them.
Diabetes is a classic example of how hormones affect the body. Diabetes is caused when the body is unable to produce enough insulin, making the body unable to regulate sugar. Diabetics before 1920 lived a death sentence, with stopping eating being the only defence.
In his book The Discovery of Insulin , Michael Bliss calls the discovery and the ability of scientists to produce insulin, a resurrection for all mankind. The effects of administered insulin were miraculous – a medical triumph.
Robert Waldow of Illinois is another example of the wonders of hormones. Being the tallest person that ever lived, Waldow was over 8 feet tall when he graduated and 8 feet 11 inches tall when he died at the age of 22 of a septic infection he caught due to his leg braces, meant to support his height. He kept growing taller due to a problem in his ‘baked bean-sized pituitary gland that produced too much growth hormone. It is amazing to think that such a small organ can have such huge effects.
Hormones are still a mystery to humankind. While some effects can be explained, many remain mysterious. Oxytocin, for example, is known for generating feelings of affection. However, it also helps direct contraction of the uterus during labour and also helps in facial recognition. The how and why of the connections of these tasks are still a mystery.
The Unique Skeleton
The human body has 206 bones. However, one in every eight people has a thirteenth rib. Additionally, the body also has sesamoid bones – or bones that are sesame-sized – near the hands, feet, and the rest of the body that aren’t counted.
We know for sure that the bones give the body structure, protect the inner organs, store chemicals, and make blood cells. However, in the early 2000s, it was discovered that bones also produce a hormone called osteocalcin, the reason why regular exercise also reduces the risks of Alzheimer’s.
The hand has 29 bones, 17 muscles, 123 named ligaments, and assorted arteries and nerves. Additionally, the forearm has 18 muscles that control these. The manner in which all these are connected and function is so amazing that Sir Charles Bell, the 19th-century Scottish surgeon called flexibility that ensues from these connections proof of divine creation.
While most primates have an opposable thumb, humans have a unique trio of muscles –the extensor pollicis brevis , flexor pollicis longus , and first volar interosseous of Henle – in the thumb that enables effective manipulation of tools.
Bipedal ability also makes humans uniquely different from primates, perhaps as important as the differences in the brain. Evolution, particularly of the long necks, suppler backs, and bigger knees than other primates has enabled humans to walk upright.
However, the same unique evolution of bipedal ability has evolved women to have narrower pelvises. Childbirth for humans is thus uniquely (and excruciatingly) painful and dangerous as compared to other primates.
Evolutionarily, humans are made for movement. Being hunter-gatherers and being on the move always for procuring food used up a lot of energy. Thus, we can’t digest food while exercising. A positive excuse for couch-slouchers if there was ever one!!
We Are What We Eat
The digestive system of the human body works primarily to kill all the harmful bacteria we ingest. The hydrochloric acid in the stomach kills microbes and helps in further softening the cooked food that is chewed. The food then progresses down to the intestines, where nutrients are absorbed, and bacteria break down fibre.
What isn’t useful comes out of the body as faeces. Faeces are made up of undigested fibre, dead cells from the blood and the intestine, dead bacteria. From all that we consume, that is all that is left. The body is adept at using everything else.
Eating, today, is considered more as a way of satisfying one’s gastronomic pleasures; however, the primary function of eating is to attain energy. Cooking food helps in extracting more energy from the food we eat. Additionally, we need to eat to ensure the body gets its nutrients such as vitamins and minerals from outside sources, as it cannot make these itself.
Today, the concept of dieting is immensely popular world-over. Despite the innumerable diet plans and methods available, dietary science is still flawed. The body needs the essential five – carbs, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fibre, and it is impossible to ascertain who needs how much of these as every person has a different body make and lifestyle.
However, there is one thing certain. Humans consume much more sugar than they need to. Considering all that the body uses from the food consumed, we need to stop and think – how much sugar are we letting the body consume.
The problem lies not only in the fast-food culture that has taken the world by storm. Even the average fruit has been enhanced and produced to taste sweeter. The WHO recommends only five teaspoons of added sugar a day as the upper limit for consumption. The fact that the average American consumes 22, counting the amount consumed in processed foods is alarming. The odds are certainly stacked against humans, and habits are to blame!
We spend about a third of our lifetime sleeping. No one has been able to pinpoint the importance of it. Yet, sleep does so much for the human body. It helps reset the immune system, hormones, our memories, and much, much more.
We lose consciousness when we sleep. While there must be a sound reason for it, no one really knows it. Sleep researcher Allen Rectschaffen, says that sleep either does something very important or is an evolutionary mistake of unique proportions.
There are many processes that help indicate sleeping time to the body. Along with the rods and cones in the eyes, it was discovered in 1999 that the eyes have a third photoreceptor – the photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. These detect brightness, telling the body when its night and day. These cells can also help some blind people know when light is switched on or off.
The body also has a number of internal circadian clock s – chemical mechanisms found in the pancreas to the kidneys, that respond to the time of the day. Different circadian cycles have their own schedules: one such cycle, for example, prescribes that our reflexes are best in the middle of the afternoon.
The pineal gland in the brain tracks seasons, similar to hibernating animals. This makes the body function differently in different seasons. The faster growth of hair in the summer is one such example.
In addition, stages of life have different circadian cycles. The amount of sleep a human need decreases as we age. A baby needs about 19 hours of sleep, whereas, it is commonly found that the elderly suffer from a lack of sleep. Young adults need more sleep than they usually get, and hence, teenagers seem to be lazier than their parents.
Women And Childbirth
Sexism has, unfortunately, affected gender sciences too. Women have been studied far lesser than men have. In fact, Nettie Stevens, the female scientist who discovered the Y chromosome that men have and women don’t, did not even get the credit for her discovery because a man discovered it too, roughly at the same time in 1905.
Until recently, a number of drug trials have excluded women due to the fact that menstrual cycles could skew their results. However, it is essential to account for menstruation in drug trial results. It is an important determiner why some drugs affect women differently.
While the male anatomy has been widely researched, the female anatomy is grossly under-researched. Menopause and menstruation were not studied at all.
Childbirth and pregnancy are under-researched too. For example, the placenta plays a vital role in the development of the foetus. It filters toxins, kills anything that could harm the foetus and even distributes hormones. Yet it is one of the least understood organs. Most of the problems women face during pregnancy result from problems in the placenta rather than the foetus itself.
Childbirth itself is miraculous and strange. Just as the womb drains away from the amniotic fluid, a baby’s heart and lungs start working. No one yet knows what triggers it.
A newborn baby’s head is, on average about an inch wider than the birth canal, owning to why childbirth is so excruciatingly painful.
Another wondrous thing about the body and childbirth can be seen in the long-term effects of birthing a baby naturally (through the birth canal) and via Caesarean section. Though still developing, research indicates that microbes present in the birth canal could be the reason why children delivered via the Caesarean section could have a greater chance of developing Type 1 diabetes and asthma. Exposure to a mother’s microbes may make a notable difference to the long-term health of individuals.
We have treaded a long successful path when it comes to fighting diseases. In fact, 2011, a notable year in the history of fighting diseases, saw more deaths from non-communicable diseases than communicable ones. Deaths due to stroke and heart failure topped lists, whereas there were lesser deaths caused by viruses. This can be attributed to medical sciences as well as changes in lifestyle.
Earlier, communicable diseases wreaked hell on humanity. Diphtheria once killed as many as fifteen thousand people a year in the US alone. Today, deaths caused by diphtheria are rare. Medical sciences have been able to render smallpox – one of the world’s most rampant infectious diseases – extinct as of 1980.
Science knows about seven thousand non-communicable genetic diseases. Furthermore, there are some non-communicable diseases, which are extremely rare. pycnodysostosis is one such example, where the growth of the legs stops after puberty. There have been only 200 known cases so far. Diseases such as pycnodysostosis , due to their rarity aren’t studied as much and thus have no effective treatments.
Professor Daniel Leiberman of Harvard also names a category of diseases mismatch diseases. These diseases are caused due to the discrepancy between current lifestyles and the evolution of the human body to match the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors. Cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 Diabetes are examples, where changes in lifestyles can help avoid them.
Another disease that instils fear among humans is cancer. The study of the uncontrollable division of cells that causes the body to attack itself is still in its nascent stages, despite having improved treatments year on year. Cancer, according to Neuroscientist Patrick Wall, is the ‘apogee of pointlessness’. The pain caused by cancer in the later stages, and chronic pain (though a veritable indication of danger) are examples of how the body, though wondrous and miraculous, can malfunction anytime.
The Inevitability Of Death
According to Harvard physiologist Lawrence Henderson, at some point between 1900 and 1912, the chances of a patient having a successful doctor’s visit improved by 50%. Medical progress kept improving from that point onwards.
British epidemiologist Thomas McKeon hypothesized that since the beginning of the 19 th century, in addition to improvements in medicine; there was a clear improvement in living standards such as better sanitation, better diet (owing to the fact that railways facilitated the delivery of fresher food to many places). The decline in deaths caused by a number of diseases including measles and tuberculosis started even before the treatments were available.
Scientists still do not know why humans age. However, treatment for diseases is only a temporary solution to stave off death. The lifespan of an individual depends on a number of factors. However, according to Lieberman a person, on average, can live till the age of 80 following a healthy lifestyle. However, the chances of an individual living longer than that depend on genes.
There are many theories stating that today’ younger humans will be able to live 50% longer in the future. But we are still a long way from turning these theories into reality.
The human race has come a long way in discovering some of the secrets of the human body. Medical sciences have unlocked the mysteries of many functions of the body. Despite the discoveries and the knowledge we have gained, it still amounts to a mere drop in the vast ocean.
We still have much to learn and understand about the functioning of the human body, the diseases that affect us, and the world surrounding us.
- The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor – Book Summary and Review Deploy Yourself School of Leadership - Sumit Gupta - […] way is to learn about and get to know one’s own body […]
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Reviews of The Body by Bill Bryson
Summary | Excerpt | Reviews | Beyond the book | Read-Alikes | Genres & Themes | Author Bio
A Guide for Occupants
by Bill Bryson
- Science, Health and the Environment
- Adult-YA Crossover Nonfiction
- Top 20 Best Books of 2020
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About this Book
Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything , takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner's manual for everybody.
Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body--how it functions, its remarkable ability to heal itself, and (unfortunately) the ways it can fail. Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, "We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted." The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information.
7. THE HEART AND BLOOD
Stopped. Last word of British surgeon and anatomist Joseph Henry Green (1791– 1863) while feeling his own pulse
THE HEART IS the most misperceived of our organs. For a start, it looks nothing like the traditional symbol associated with Valentine's Day and lovers' initials carved into tree trunks and the like. (That symbol first appeared, as if from out of nowhere, in paintings from northern Italy in the early fourteenth century, but no one knows what inspired it.) Nor is the heart where we place our right hand during patriotic moments; it is more centrally located in the chest than that. Most curious of all, perhaps, is that we make it the emotional seat of our being, as when we declare that we love someone with all our heart or profess a broken heart when they abandon us. Don't misunderstand me. The heart is a wondrous organ and fully deserving of our praise and gratitude, but it is not invested even slightly in our emotional well-being. That's a good ...
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Reader reviews, bookbrowse review.
With his characteristic wit, he takes his readers on a survey of anatomy that successfully outlines what makes us human. The book will certainly appeal to Bryson’s ever-growing fan base and delight anyone who enjoys acquiring new information about a topic they think they already know well. I've read everything he has written and believe it to be far and away his best work to date... continued
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Beyond the Book
Trivia about the human body.
- According to calculations by Britain's Royal Society of Chemistry, 59 elements are needed to construct a human being. Just six of these (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorous) make up 99.1% of our bodies.
- Every day between one and five of your 37.2 trillion cells turns cancerous, but your immune system almost always captures and kills the malignant cells.
- Our skin doesn't have receptors for wetness, only thermal sensors, which is why when you sit down on a wet spot you can't tell if it's truly wet or just cold.
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- Genres & Themes
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The author of the best-selling Your Inner Fish gives us a lively and accessible account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth--a new view of the evolution of human and animal life that explains how the incredible diversity of life on our planet came to be.
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The Body by Bill Bryson review – a directory of wonders
Extraordinary stories about the heart, lungs, genitals ... plus some anger and life advice – all delivered in the inimitable Bryson style
T he cartilage in your joints is smoother than glass, and has a friction coefficient five times less than ice. The more exercise we do the more our bones produce a hormone that boosts mood, fertility and memory – staving off frailty, depression and dementia. Taste receptors trigger insulin release, so that before we’ve even swallowed our bodies are preparing for a meal (there are even taste receptors in the testicles). We are made of seven billion billion billion atoms, the constituent elements of which would cost £96,546.79 on the open market (excluding VAT). A study of 60 people’s belly buttons found 2,368 species of bacteria, 1,458 of them “unknown to science”. Our ears can discern a volume range of a 1,000,000,000,000 factors of amplitude. Over a lifetime your heart performs the equivalent work to lifting a tonne weight 150 miles into the air. Through her nipples a breast-feeding mother’s body gauges the microbes in her baby’s saliva, to adjust the antibody content of her milk. If you laid all the DNA in your body end to end it would stretch 10bn miles, beyond the orbit of Pluto: “Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system,” Bill Bryson writes; “You are in the most literal sense cosmic.”
Bryson’s The Body is a directory of such wonders, a tour of the minuscule; it aims to do for the human body what his A Short History of Nearly Everything did for science. He has waded through a PhD’s worth of articles, interviewed a score of physicians and biologists, read a library of books, and had a great deal of fun along the way. There’s a formula at work – the prose motors gleefully along, a finely tuned engine running on jokes, factoids and biographical interludes.
His introduction, “How to Build a Human”, explores the mystery of life, why £96k worth of atomic matter self-organises into the miraculous and autonomous beings that we are (spoiler alert: no one really knows). After dispensing with the skin and hair (“no one ever died of baldness”), and the trillions of bacteria that share our bodies (“bacteria can swap genes between themselves, like Pokémon cards”), the brain, head, throat, heart, liver, skeleton, lungs, guts and genitals are given the Bryson treatment: wry, companionable, avuncular and always lucid. Despite his geniality, the pace is breakneck: six pages of the 454 span the history of cardiac surgery (a subject Thomas Morris’s The Matter of the Heart recently spent more than 400 pages on). In an express chapter on pain and nerves, migraine is allotted just one paragraph, as is the pain of cancer.
Bryson’s tour of the marvellous arcs into the remarkable achievements of an elite few of our fellow humans: the toddler who was fully resuscitated from hypothermia even though her heart had stopped for hours; the flight attendant who survived a fall of 33,000ft, cushioned by fir trees; the Spanish diver who held his breath for 24 minutes; the Chilean miners who do hard labour 19,000ft up a mountain. In terms of our reproductive capacities, you might be interested to know that the chance of conceiving on a single, randomly timed act of sex is 3%, the lucky sperm welcomed to the egg “like a long-lost if curiously diminutive friend”. As for the average size of the human penis, you can find it on page 287.
Bryson is concerned not just with the peculiarities of our bodies, but their expiry dates: through the 20th century, human life expectancy improved as much again as in the previous 8,000 years. The first thousand days of life from conception are crucial for your future health – stress in early childhood, and in the womb, makes you an unhealthier and more miserable adult. Junk food and sedentary lives mean that children born now are expected to have shorter lives than their parents – a development that prompts Bryson into a rare bitter jibe: “We aren’t just eating ourselves into early graves, it seems, but breeding children to jump in alongside us.” This is a political more than a medical problem, and it has political solutions: men in the East End of Glasgow have a life expectancy of 54, 25 less than the UK average – improving that statistic requires government action, not medicine. A 30-year-old black man in Harlem has a worse prospective lifespan than a 30-year-old Bangladeshi, just on the basis of stroke, diabetes and heart disease risk, and excluding drug deaths and violence. What factors improve our life expectancy? “One is that it is really helpful to be rich,” Bryson answers. And the second? “That it is not a good idea to be American.”
In the final chapters he gets angrier, and the book becomes even more interesting. He points out that even rich Americans die younger than the average-income European because of diet, obesity and America’s anomalous, hyper-expensive and iniquitous healthcare system. Bryson was born in Iowa but has made his home in Britain, and relates with barely disguised horror that the average American eats two entire cheesecakes-worth of calories more than the average person in Holland or Sweden, every week. Americans shoot one another more often than anyone else, drink and drive more than “almost anybody else” and wear seatbelts less frequently than anyone but the Italians. Insulin, the patent for which was donated by its discoverers for the good of mankind, is six times more expensive in the US than in Europe. Cuba and Lithuania have better infant survival rates than America. The US has double the number of financial administrators in its healthcare system than it does physicians. And just in case Brits are starting to feel smug, Bryson points out that UK government austerity between 2010 and 2017 has led to about 120,000 preventable early deaths. To its shame, the UK languishes among the poorest in the developed world in terms of cancer survival – because the very barriers to specialist care that make the NHS comparatively cheap to run also make it lumberingly slow.
On the subject of prostate cancer, the PSA test is “hardly more effective than a coin toss” according to Professor Richard J Ablin, who discovered it in 1970: “I never dreamed that my discovery four decades ago would lead to such a profit-driven disaster” (one of many moments in The Body when I stopped to applaud, and scrawled in my notes “I wish all my patients would read this”). It makes sense that enjoying good friendships in later life might promote longevity, but Bryson notes that a positive social and emotional life seems to actually protect our DNA. In one study looking at diabetic care and outcomes, the patients of doctors who were rated highly for compassion had a 40% lower complication rate.
You are a walking, talking catalogue of wonders. “And how do we celebrate the glory of our existence?” Bryson asks. “Well, for most of us by exercising minimally and eating maximally.” For all Bryson’s encyclopedic reading, his brain-picking sessions with medicine’s finest minds, the ultimate conclusions of his book could stand as an ultimate prescription for life: eat a little bit less, move a little bit more.
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The Body (Bryson)
The Body: A Guide for Occupants Bill Bryson, 2019 Knopf Doubleday 464 pp. ISBN-13: 9780385539302 Summary Bill Bryson, bestselling author of A Short History of Nearly Everything , takes us on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human body. As addictive as it is comprehensive, this is Bryson at his very best, a must-read owner's manual for everybody . Bill Bryson once again proves himself to be an incomparable companion as he guides us through the human body… —How it functions —Its remarkable ability to heal itself —The ways (unfortunately) it can fail Full of extraordinary facts (your body made a million red blood cells since you started reading this) and irresistible Bryson-esque anecdotes, The Body will lead you to a deeper understanding of the miracle that is life in general and you in particular. As Bill Bryson writes, "We pass our existence within this wobble of flesh and yet take it almost entirely for granted." The Body will cure that indifference with generous doses of wondrous, compulsively readable facts and information. ( From the publisher .)
Author Bio • Birth—December 8 1951 • Where—Des Moines, Iowa, USA • Education—B.A., Drake University • Awards—( see below ) • Currently—lives in Norfolk, England, UK William McGuire "Bill" Bryson is a best-selling American author of humorous books on travel, as well as books on the English language and on science. Born an American, he was a resident of North Yorkshire, UK, for most of his professional life before moving back to the US in 1995. In 2003 Bryson moved back to the UK, living in Norfolk, and was appointed Chancellor of Durham University. Early years Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of William and Mary Bryson. He has an older brother, Michael, and a sister, Mary Jane Elizabeth. He was educated at Drake University but dropped out in 1972, deciding to instead backpack around Europe for four months. He returned to Europe the following year with a high school friend, the pseudonymous Stephen Katz (who later appears in Bryson's A Walk in the Woods ). Some of Bryson's experiences from this European trip are included as flashbacks in a book about a similar excursion written 20 years later, Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe . Staying in the UK, Bryson landed a job working in a psychiatric hospital—the now defunct Holloway Sanatorium in Virginia Water in Surrey. There he met his wife Cynthia, a nurse. After marring, the couple moved to the US, in 1975, so Bryson could complete his college degree. In 1977 they moved back to the UK where they remained until 1995. Living in North Yorkshire and working primarily as a journalist, Bryson eventually became chief copy editor of the business section of The Times , and then deputy national news editor of the business section of The Independent . He left journalism in 1987, three years after the birth of his third child. Still living in Kirkby Malham, North Yorkshire, Bryson started writing independently, and in 1990 their fourth and final child, Sam, was born. Books Bryson came to prominence in the UK with his 1995 publication of Notes from a Small Island , an exploration of Britain. Eight years later, as part of the 2003 World Book Day, Notes was voted by UK readers as the best summing up of British identity and the state of the nation. (The same year, 2003, saw Bryson appointed a Commissioner for English Heritage.) In 1995, Bryson and his family returned to the US, living in Hanover, New Hampshire for the next eight years. His time there is recounted in the 1999 story collection, I'm A Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to American After 20 Years Away ( known as Notes from a Big Country in the UK, Canada and Australia). It was during this time that Bryson decided to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz. The resulting book is the 1998 A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail . The book became one of Bryson's all-time bestsellers and was adapted to film in 2015, starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte. In 2003, the Brysons and their four children returned to the UK. They now live in Norfolk. That same year, Bryson published A Short History of Nearly Everything , a 500-page exploration, in nonscientific terms, of the history of some of our scientific knowledge. The book reveals the often humble, even humorous, beginnings of some of the discoveries which we now take for granted. The book won Bryson the prestigious 2004 Aventis Prize for best general science book and the 2005 EU Descartes Prize for science communication. Although one scientist is alleged to have jokingly described A Brief History as "annoyingly free of mistakes," Bryson himself makes no such claim, and a list of nine reported errors in the book is available online. Bryson has also written two popular works on the history of the English language— Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way (1990) and Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States (1994). He also updated of his 1983 guide to usage, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words . These books were popularly acclaimed and well-reviewed, despite occasional criticism of factual errors, urban myths, and folk etymologies. In 2016, Bryson published The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in England , a sequel to his Notes from a Small Island . Honors In 2005, Bryson was appointed Chancellor of Durham University, succeeding the late Sir Peter Ustinov, and has been particularly active with student activities, even appearing in a Durham student film (the sequel to The Assassinator ) and promoting litter picks in the city. He had praised Durham as "a perfect little city" in Notes from a Small Island . He has also been awarded honorary degrees by numerous universities, including Bournemouth University and in April 2002 the Open University. In 2006, Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines, awarded Bryson the key to the city and announced that 21 October 2006 would be known as "Bill Bryson, The Thunderbolt Kid, Day." In November 2006, Bryson interviewed the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair on the state of science and education. On 13 December 2006, Bryson was awarded an honorary OBE for his contribution to literature. The following year, he was awarded the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin. In January 2007, Bryson was the Schwartz Visiting Fellow of the Pomfret School in Connecticut. In May 2007, he became the President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England. His first area focus in this role was the establishment of an anti-littering campaign across England. He discussed the future of the countryside with Richard Mabey, Sue Clifford, Nicholas Crane and Richard Girling at CPRE's Volunteer Conference in November 2007. ( From Wikipedia. Adapted 2/1/2016 .)
Book Reviews Delightful…. Reveals the thousands of rarely acknowledged tasks our body takes care of as we go about our day.… Informative, entertaining and often gross (kissing, according to one study, transfers up to one billion bacteria from one mouth to another, along with 0.2 micrograms of food bits)…. Bryson, who gives off a Cronkite-like trustworthy vibe, is good at allaying fears and busting myths. New York Times Book Review Glorious…. Having described the physical nature of our world and beyond… [Bryson] now turns inward to explain—in his lucid, amusing style—what we’re made of.… Astonishing…. [He] draws on dozens of experts and a couple hundred books to carry the reader from outside to inside… and from miraculous operational efficiencies to malignant mayhem when things go awry.… You will marvel at the brilliance and vast weirdness of your design. Washington Post A witty, informative immersion…. The Body —a delightful, anecdote-propelled read—proves one of his most ambitious yet, as he leads us on a head-to-toe tour of a physique that’s terra incognita to many of us…. Playful, lucid… [Bryson] cover[s] a remarkably large swathe of human corporeal and cerebral experience. Boston Globe A directory of wonders…. Extraordinary…. A tour of the minuscule; it aims to do for the human body what his A Short History of Nearly Everything did for science.… The prose motors gleefully along, a finely tuned engine running on jokes, factoids and biographical interludes…. Wry, companionable, avuncular and always lucid… [ The Body ] could stand as an ultimate prescription for life. Guardian ( UK ) Mr. Bryson’s latest book is a Baedeker of the human body, a fact-studded survey of our physiques, inside and out. Many authors have produced such guides in recent years, and some of them are very good. But none have done it quite so well as Mr. Bryson, who writes better, is more amusing and has greater mastery of his material than anyone else. Wall Street Journal Bryson launches himself into the wilderness of the human anatomy armed with his characteristic thoroughness and wit. He ably dissects the knowns and unknowns of how we live and die and all the idiosyncrasies of our shared infrastructure.… This book is full of such arresting factoids and, like a douser hunting water, Bryson is adept at finding the bizarre and the arcane in his subject matter.… Amazing. USA Today ( Starred review ) Bryson’s tone is both informative and inviting, encouraging the reader, throughout this exemplary work, to share the sense of wonder he expresses at how the body is constituted and what it is capable of. Publishers Weekly [Bryson] keeps the science lively by interweaving facts and statistics with anecdotes, interviews with scientists and doctors, and his trademark dry humor.… Bryson has shaped an enormous amount of anatomy and physiology into an informative and entertaining biostory. — Cynthia Lee Knight, Hunterdon Cty. Historical Soc., Flemington, NJ Library Journal ( Starred review ) A delightful tour guide…. Bryson's stroll through human anatomy, physiology, evolution, and illness (diabetes, cancer, infections) is instructive, accessible, and entertaining. Booklist A narrative by Bryson rarely involves the unfolding of a grand thesis; instead, it's a congeries of anecdotes, skillfully strung, always a pleasure to read but seldom earthshakingly significant. So it is here.… A pleasing, entertaining sojourn into the realm of what makes us tick. Kirkus Reviews
Discussion Questions We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for THE BODY … then take off on your own : 1. Were you surprised by the myriad physical processes that your body performs as you go about your daily life? How about things like the number of oxygen molecules you breathe in and out every so many minutes … or those cute little mites that dine on your eyebrows? (Oh yum.) 2. If we're lucky enough, we take our bodies for granted. Has reading Bill Bryson's book opened your eyes to just how remarkable these large clusters of cells actually are, how well (for the most part) they perform their jobs? 3. ( Follow-up to Question 2 ) Unfortunately, our bodies aren't always in good health, yet over the years science has developed treatments for disease and physical dysfunction. Sometimes they have been legendary cures, like Jonas Falk's vaccine for polio. Other times they have been the seemingly insignificant things like, say, the use of agar in petrie dishes. Talk about some of the unsung heroes—those who never became household names but whose work resulted in important discoveries.
4. What are some of the myths about health that Bryson says have been debunked by science. What surprised you: perhaps the information antioxidants or how often men think about sex? 5. What does Bryson have to say about the overuse of antibiotics? How have we gotten ourselves to the point where we find ourselves in a bacterial "arms race"? How do we win? Can we win? 6. Overall, what do you think of Bill Bryson's The Body ? Do you feel informed, that you've learned something valuable after reading it? Is it engaging? Does it offer a good balance of science and technology with readable prose for the non-expert? Is it funny? ( Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks .)
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Your Body Is a Wonderland
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By A.J. Jacobs
- Oct. 15, 2019
THE BODY A Guide for Occupants By Bill Bryson
During the few moments it will take you to read this review, your body will be extremely busy.
Your lungs will inhale and exhale about 300 sextillion oxygen molecules.
Your bone marrow will create some 200 million red blood cells.
Your eyebrows will serve as a buffet for thousands of tiny mites that, as Bill Bryson puts it, munch on our cells as if they are a “giant crusty bowl of Corn Flakes.”
I like to remind myself of these mind-boggling (and occasionally disgusting) facts because I so often take my body for granted.
One of the strengths of Bryson’s delightful new book, “The Body,” is that it reveals the thousands of rarely acknowledged tasks our body takes care of as we go about our day. We should be thankful.
Well, mostly thankful. In some respects, the human body is terribly designed. It’s a collection of evolution’s Scotch-tape-and-bubble-gum fixes (see our injury-prone knees or the dangerously exposed scrotum). Plus, our bodies can and do go horribly awry, whether from tennis elbow or deadly infections.
But still, this cluster of interdependent 37.2 trillion cells is all we’ve got — at least until we upload our brains into the cloud. And on the whole, it’s pretty remarkable.
Bryson built his career with wry first-person travel books (for instance, “A Walk in the Woods,” about his ill-fated trek on the Appalachian Trail) and has since moved onto popular guides to science and history (“ A Short History of Everything ,” about, well, everything).
This time, Bryson takes us on a body-part-by-body-part tour, with chapters devoted to the brain, the guts and the skin and hair. Each chapter weaves together history, anecdotes, expert interviews and vocabulary lessons. I learned about “horripilation” (the proper name for goose bumps) and “adermatoglyphia” (the rare condition of having no fingerprints).
The overall result is informative, entertaining and often gross (kissing, according to one study, transfers up to one billion bacteria from one mouth to another, along with 0.2 micrograms of food bits).
Bryson particularly excels at ferreting out unsung heroes. Here, he gives some love to John Charnley, a British orthopedic surgeon, who perfected the artificial hip made of steel and plastic. “Almost no one has heard of Charnley,” Bryson writes, “but few people have brought relief to greater numbers of sufferers than he did.” And Bryson gives much-deserved credit to a woman named Fanny Hesse, albeit in a footnote. Hesse, who was married to a German scientist, suggested growing microbes in agar, which her grandmother used in pudding recipes. Agar turned out to be the perfect habitat for microbes. Hesse likely saved millions of lives by speeding up tuberculosis research and microbiology in general. Thank you, Frau Hesse.
Bryson, who gives off a Cronkite-like trustworthy vibe, is good at allaying fears and busting myths. For instance, he says you don’t have to worry about MSG — there’s no science indicating that eating normal amounts of this synthetic umami causes headaches or malaise (though there is evidence people find it delicious). You can also stop obsessing about antioxidants. There’s little science behind the claim that you can increase your life span with antioxidant supplements (a $2- billion-a-year industry).
So when a levelheaded guy such as Bryson gets worried, it’s probably wise to worry too. If there’s one part of this book everyone should read, it’s the five pages on the antibiotic crisis. It will light up your amygdala.
Because of the continuing overuse of antibiotics on ourselves, our farm animals and even our fruits, we’ve created some really nasty germs. Already the superbug MRSA and its cousins kill an estimated 700,000 people around the world annually, Bryson says. It’s an arms race bacteria are threatening to win, and humans can’t keep up. Pharmaceutical companies aren’t inventing enough new antibiotics because they’re too expensive to develop.
If we continue on our current trajectory, we’re talking a dystopian future that looks a lot like the past: infectious diseases overtaking heart disease as the biggest killer. We need new antibiotics so our bodies can continue their amazing, unacknowledged drudge work.
A.J. Jacobs’s most recent book is “Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey.”
THE BODY A Guide for Occupants By Bill Bryson Illustrated. 446 pp. Doubleday. $30.
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Bill bryson's 'the body' is missing his characteristic wit, ingenious way of analysis.
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When I was a teenager, I had an argument with a close friend about Bill Bryson.
Both of us were competitive debaters, which meant we actively sought out sweeping, magisterial works like A Short History of Nearly Everything — something from which we could glean as much as possible from as little as possible. It's easy to imagine precocious teenagers reading Bryson's new book, The Body: A Guide for Occupants , in much the same spirit.
Of course we loved A Short History — as did everybody else, it seems. Bryson's celebrated book was the sort of thing academic historians today have a phrase for: "big history." Just four years after A Short History was published, the historian Cynthia Stokes Brown released a book with a similar scope. It was called Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present . Far more than Bryson, Stokes Brown is now seen as somebody with an important approach to history: that human history cannot be fully understood without taking a much longer view of history in general, human and otherwise.
Regardless, both authors had similar impulses: to communicate science, medicine, history, geography, what-have-you, simply , for anyone to read. It's not controversial to observe that the hallowed world of academia tends to look down upon such works (the implicit argument is that something so ambitious is necessarily a work of synthesis, not research) — but it's fascinating to note that for many, like myself, who ended up in academia, a work like A Short History may just have been a pivotal push in the right direction.
The aforementioned argument with my friend, however, was about something different: I contended that as wonderful as A Short History was, where Bryson really shined was in his less sweeping books. Bryson's Shakespeare: The World as Stage had just been released and it was a hard call but I found Bryson's idiosyncratic, even erratic detours through Elizabethan England and controversies about Shakespeare more charming, more page-turning, than A Short History .
It would be only partly a function of age, then, that may make one feel a keen sense of disappointment with The Body . A fairly straightforward traipse through organs or organ systems (a chapter on the brain, another on the skeleton, another on the gut, and so on), The Body is the sort of book that makes one wonder how it is that Bryson lost his magic touch in making very big books transcend the common textbook. Oftentimes during The Body , it's unclear what exactly makes Bryson feel that the words of a living scientist or two per chapter are sufficient to enthrall the reader more than an introductory human biology textbook would. If anything, the way The Body moves along, it makes one wish there were sub-headings and diagrams — things textbooks have. So, what happened?
Perhaps what's missing most is Bryson's characteristic wit and ingenious ways of analysis. There is a little of both. In the first chapter, Bryson takes us through a tour of the different price tags groups of scientific experts put on the human body: "Altogether, according to the [Royal Society of Chemistry], the full cost of building a new human being, using an obliging Benedict Cumberbatch as a template, would be a very precise $151,578.76." It's a promising start. In A Short History , Bryson almost always used a fun framing through which to edify. In The Body , it's an early stunt that's almost never attempted again. Wit is even more rare. This is a shame.
The reason Bryson has had so many fans, like myself, over the years is not because he's uniquely good at synthesis, but because he's able to do what similar books cannot: make the synthesis compulsively readable. For my money, the best joke in this almost-400-page book with hardly any is the following sentence about the Polish chemist Casimir Funk who came up with the idea of vitamins:
"Although Funk coined the term 'vitamines,' and is thus often given credit for their discovery, most of the real work...was done by others, in particular Sir Frederick Hopkins, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1929 — a fact that left Funk permanently in one."
Bryson knows well that readers are suckers for a good pun. But the jokes are too few and far between to make a difference.
What The Body is left with, then, is a heavy sense of didacticism, and a pedestrian tone of unrelenting pomp and hyperbole so common in popular science books that aim to make everything about scientific discovery seem just awesome . There are glimmers of hope when Bryson uses quirky, fascinating stories. The story of Alphonse Bertillon, a man called to the scene of a murder in a Paris apartment in 1902, is one such glimmer. Bertillon went on to deduce the fact that fingerprints are unique, which made fingerprinting a standard forensic technique; this story, relatively brief, allows the reader to glide right to Bryson's musings about how it is still unknown what evolutionary purpose unique fingerprints confers and straight on to more interesting stuff about the organ of skin without Eureka! traps.
But more often than not, Bryson shies away from story-telling entirely: When discussing heart disease, he writes that "the triggering event for public awareness seems to have been the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt...when he died...the world suddenly seemed to realize that heart disease had become a serious and widespread problem." That's all we get on FDR and this sudden transformation. Where Bryson could replace a gap with an interesting story, he places a period and simply moves on — to more boring subjects.
The tendency to abandon fruitful threads can be infuriating. The Body seems well-placed to inform readers about controversy in the history of biology. The gruesome, controversial experiments that led to knowledge about heart pressure are a welcome presence, as is the rabid discord between the two men who shared the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of an efficient way of procuring insulin. But one cannot help but wish for Bryson to move closer to controversy. He briefly flirts with the fraught ethics of what counts as "brain death," and elsewhere with the fact that due to the economics of patents the vast majority of modern pharmaceutical companies have stopped searching for new antibiotics. But that's all they are: brief flirtations. And in at least one particular case, Bryson's aversion to sit with controversy is truly damning. When discussing the cost of new therapies that work remarkably for certain melanomas, Bryson quotes a professor of immunology. The professor asks: " What are we going to do...cure a few rich people and tell everyone else that it is not available?" And Bryson says: "But that is, of course, another issue altogether." I genuinely cannot remember when I have been more enraged by the ending to a chapter. Or more surprised that the humanist writer of A Short History would be so ignorant to the broader connections and implications of his subject.
The truth is, it's just not clear who The Body is for. Is it the sort of book targeted to the children bored by textbooks, or is it targeted to the casual adult reader? Is it meant for people who care for and know about the human body, or is it for people who know nothing about it? It is a strange burden to put on a writer to expect an entirely different book than the one that is present, but for many long-time Bryson fans, this may be exactly the conundrum.
And no matter who the reader is, it is hard to imagine The Body making the kind of incredible impact that A Short History did, especially in a time when so many wonderful books with similar scope exist. The Body does not rise to the level of Siddhartha Mukherjee's wonderful The Gene , or Henry Gee's Across the Bridge ; Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish , or Daniel Lieberman's The Story of the Human Body. The sense of the prosaic overwhelms the ambition of the scope — but perhaps, in a sense, I'm having the same argument I had as a teenager. I like Bryson's less ambitious books more. Only this time, it's not a hard call to make at all.
Kamil Ahsan is a biologist, historian and writer based in New Haven. His work has appeared in The Nation , the Los Angeles Review of Books, The American Prospect, and Chicago Review, among other places.
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The Body: A Guide for Occupants
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Bryson, born in the U.S. in 1951, emigrated as a young man to England and adopted it as his home. There, he developed his careers as a journalist and author. For a time, he also was chancellor of Durham University. Bryson’s best-known works include A Short History of Nearly Everything , lauded for its clear explanations of scientific topics, and A Walk in the Woods, made into a film starring Robert Redford.
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Dr. Jackson (1865-1958) was a pioneer in laryngology who specialized in removing items accidentally swallowed or inhaled. He developed many of the instruments used to extract foreign objects and collected 2,374 dislodged items, which today are housed in a museum at Philadelphia’s College of Physicians. Though considered cold and remote by those who knew him, Jackson saved hundreds of lives and is regarded as a giant of medicine.
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By Bill Bryson
A Short History of Nearly Everything
A Walk in the Woods
In a Sunburned Country
One Summer: America, 1927
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
The Lost Continent
The Mother Tongue
The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
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The Body: A Guide for Occupants Hardcover – October 15, 2019
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- Print length 464 pages
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- Publisher Doubleday
- Publication date October 15, 2019
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- Publisher : Doubleday; First Edition (October 15, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385539304
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385539302
- Item Weight : 1.78 pounds
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About the author
Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.
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The Body: A Guide for Occupants – A Summary for the Curious
The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a popular science book by Bill Bryson, first published in 2019. The book is a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the human body, covering everything from the basic building blocks of life to the complex systems that keep us alive and functioning. Bryson writes with his characteristic humor and clarity, making the book accessible to readers of all levels of scientific knowledge.
Table of Contents
Bill Bryson is an American-British science writer and journalist. He is best known for his popular science books, which have sold over 10 million copies worldwide. Bryson’s books are known for their engaging and humorous writing style, as well as their ability to make complex scientific concepts understandable to a general audience.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants summary
The Body is divided into nine parts, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the human body. The first part of the book introduces the basic building blocks of life, including cells, DNA, and proteins. Bryson then goes on to discuss the various organ systems of the body, including the skin, brain, eyes, nose, mouth and throat, heart and blood, skeleton, lungs, digestive tract, immune system, and reproductive system.
In each chapter of the book ‘The Body: A Guide for Occupants’, Bryson provides a detailed overview of the structure and function of the organ system in question. He also discusses the history of scientific discoveries about the body, and the many ways in which the body can fail or be damaged. For example, in the chapter on the heart, Bryson discusses the anatomy of the heart, how it works to pump blood throughout the body, and the various heart diseases that can affect it. He also talks about the history of cardiology, and the development of treatments for heart disease such as pacemakers and bypass surgery.
Bryson also takes the time to discuss some of the more unusual and fascinating aspects of the human body. For example, he writes about the trillions of microbes that live in and on our bodies, and the important role they play in our health. He also discusses the mysteries of sleep and consciousness, and the challenges of aging and death.
Throughout the book, Bryson emphasizes the interconnectedness of the various organ systems of the body. He shows how each system relies on the others to function properly, and how even a minor disruption to one system can have far-reaching consequences. For example, he discusses how diabetes, a disease of the pancreas, can affect the heart, eyes, kidneys, and other organs.
Theme of the Book
One of the central themes of ‘The Body: A Guide for Occupants’ is the interconnectedness of the human body. Bryson shows how each organ system relies on the others to function properly, and how even a minor disruption to one system can have far-reaching consequences. He also emphasizes the importance of taking care of our bodies, and the many ways in which we can do so.
Another theme of the book is the resilience of the human body. Despite its fragility, the human body is an incredibly resilient machine. It is able to heal itself from injury and illness, and it can adapt to a wide range of environments. Bryson writes with awe and wonder about the human body, and he encourages readers to appreciate the amazing complexity and beauty of our own bodies.
What is the human body made of?
The human body is made up of trillions of cells, which are in turn made up of atoms. The most common elements in the human body are carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen.
How much does a human body cost to build?
If you were to buy all of the individual elements that make up the human body, it would cost about $4.50. However, the human body is much more than just the sum of its parts. The complex interactions between the various cells and tissues of the body are what make us human.
How many atoms does our body contain?
The human body contains approximately 37 trillion atoms. That’s more atoms than there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy!
How many times per day do you blink?
The average person blinks about 15-20 times per minute, or 14,400-19,200 times per day. Blinking helps to keep the eyes moist and clean.
The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a fascinating and informative book that provides a comprehensive overview of the human body. Bryson’s writing is engaging and humorous, making the book accessible to readers of all levels of scientific knowledge. If you are curious about how the human body works, or if you simply want to learn more about yourself, I highly recommend reading The Body.
Review of The Body: A Guide for Occupants
The Body is an excellent book that provides a comprehensive and engaging overview of the human body.
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