The Spark of Life ePUB ´ The Spark PDF or


The Spark of Life 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 uestions lie in the electrical signals constantly traveling through our bodies driving our thoughts our movements and even the beating of our heartsThe 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 This was not a fast read but uite understandable to the educated layperson I learned a great deal from the AC or DC wars of Edison and Tesla to the ways ion channels which are proteins control whether and when certain ions pass into or out of the cells causing electrical currents throughout the neurons causing muscles to contract and glands to secrete or not The history of the discovery of electricity was great and the means by which it has been used for good or ill to treat many different maladies was a very interesting aspect of the bookThe fact that the ion channels can be deformed due to genetic mutations causing lifelong serious illness was fascinating as well as the possibility of finding ways to treat these problemsThe functions of the sense organs and various receptors including those for taste and pain were elucidated I found a plausible explanation of why some people are sensitive to pain than others reuiring pain medication for example a subject I often wondered about It's all about Nav17 sodium channels A common genetic variant in these protein channels can determine a pain thresholdI think I would like to own this book I got it from the library because there is so much information that will be hard to remember I would like to refer to it oftenMaybe I will get a copy for Christmas??? This book is life altering and paradigm changing If you've not been amazed by your own body just yet firstshame on you and second buy this book and keep it as a national treasure The overall content of the book is about how electricity is generated in our amazing bodies All of our thousands of cells contain potassium and outside of the cell is highly concentrated with sodium Within all of our cells we have these amazing things called ion channels that are innervated by a multitude of things and they open and close letting sodium in and potassium out This very act of exchanging within the protein of the ion channels is the very thing that innervates us We literally are the body electric We're amazing These ion channels are literally responsible for everything If you have a defective ion channel you could have an ailment that you already know about but little did you know that the ailment is due to ion channels Everything our senses our brains our emotions personality behavior all boils down to ion channels It literally moves me to tears I highly recommend this book When I get accepted into the PhD program I want guess what my dissertation will be on? D I think most of us are aware that the human body uses both chemical and electrical signalling to control its inner functions but until I read this book I had certainly never realised that extent to which a rather strange electrical process strange because it involves the flow not of electrons as in ‘normal’ electricity but of ions is handled by ion channelsAfter a preface that is a little confusing as she uses terms that aren’t really explained until later biologist Frances Ashcroft who spends her days working with ion channels gives us a brief introduction to electricity This physics part is by far the weakest bit of the book For example she doesn’t differentiate between a flow of electrons and the electromagnetic signal in a wire – and some of the history is a little out of date she says for instance that Franklin did the ‘kite in a thunderstorm’ experiment which is thought unlikely now But this is only an introductory phase before we get into the meat of the book which is uite fascinatingAshcroft explains how ion channels can open and close to allow a flow of ions through and how electrical energy is involved in making these essential cell components function This is absolutely fascinating from the first mention of sodium pumps I was hoping to come across the medication type proton pump inhibitors which like many thousands of people I take but if they were mentioned I missed it It is remarkable how this essential part of cell function wasn’t properly understood until around 50 years agoFor the rest of the book we are taken on a tour of the body and the way that ion channels have a powerful influence on everything from poisoning to the functioning of memory It is uite mind boggling just how much these tiny channels do for us – always dependent on that electrical motive powerFor me – and it is fair to say that my biology tolerance is pretty low – the book did get a little repetitious in some ways if only because of the central role of ion channels throughout I suspect though for many the connection with the functioning of the human body will keep that interest going – and Ashcroft has a light approachable tone and makes sufficient ventures into the wider picture to keep the reader on board Overall a subject that clearly needed writing about carefully and entertainingly revealedReview first published on wwwpopularsciencecouk and reproduced with permission Since I’m in the middle of my female authors only month I thought now would be a good time to get round to some of the non fiction books I have by women especially in the STEM field I’d forgotten I had this one which is a shame it fits into my general theme of reading about neurology and builds on a lot of the stuff about ion channels that I learnt in an introductory biology class on Coursera I understood pretty much all the science without wanting or needing to look anything up or letting anything wash over my head in part that’s because Ashcroft writes very accessibly but I think it is also because this is stuff I know and loveSome of it is a little too much towards the neurology end of things for me I wanted about electricity in the human body — of the sparks — and less of the chemical messages the soups in that old scientific debate; this veered towards talking much about the chemical parts of the process especially toward the end On the other hand it’s the chemical processes that create the electrical potentials and make all of the electricity in the human body and other animals too possible so it’s uite inextricable It just felt like it wanderedCalling the book The Spark of Life is a little misleading perhaps It talks about electricity in the body yeah but that’s too small a part of the process to be considered alone and a lot of other factors have to be discussed at uite some length Ashcroft uses good examples and explains things clearly; there’s a section of notes in the back for those who want to get a little deeper into itOriginally posted here

  • Hardcover
  • 340 pages
  • The Spark of Life
  • Frances Ashcroft
  • English
  • 08 February 2016
  • 9780393078039

About the Author: Frances Ashcroft

Frances Ashcroft MA PhD FRS is a British physiologist She is Royal Society GlaxoSmithKline Research Professor in the University of Oxford She is a fellow of Trinity College and with Kay Davies and Peter Donnelly is a director of the Oxford Centre for Gene FunctionHer research group has an international reputation for work on insulin secretion type II diabetes and neonatal diabetes Her work w


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