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BOOK REVIEWS Temperature, part 1: Arts and Concepts; part 2: Thermal Homeostasis. Edited by Theodor H. Benzinger. Stroudsburg, Penn.: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, Inc. 1977. Pp. xiii+353. $30.00 (pt. 1); $33.00 (pt. 2). The content of these two volumes makes the reviewer realize how much has been taken for granted during his early years. The thought and effort that went in to the development of a thermometer had never previously been appreciated. From the beginning of time people have known about warm and cold situations. These two subjects were early believed to be weightless fluids that moved about under certain circumstances. Not until 1610 did Fahrenheit develop an instrument that gave reproducible values for temperature. A good deal of non-English material (about 300 pages) is found in the two volumes even though there are good English summaries. The English material could have been inserted into just one volume. This Benchmark production tells of beginning concepts about temperature. For example, Hippocrates, about 460 b.c., wrote of the values of heat and cold. An interesting sidelight is the printing of a translation of his oath. The wording of an excerpt that is kept on the reviewer's desk, presented to him when a medical student, reads: "Whatever in my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret." The translation of the corresponding passage in this Benchmark volume states: "Whatever I see or hear during my cure, yea though I were not called to give physick, but as it were being in a common conversation of life, if they be not things fitting to be revealed, I will conceal and keep them secret to myself." If one follows the latter translation it would be quite proper for a physician to testify in many if not most court cases where he has knowledge of unethical and unlawful conduct. In commenting on Fahrenheit's work, Benzinger asks (1) Why was the Fahrenheit scale adopted? and (2) Why is it still used by English-speaking people? He then indicates that "by the end of this century, when the metric system goes into final effect, these questions will be laid to rest." A recent comment in Chemical·and EngineeringNews gives something of a current answer to the inquiries. It states that 180° between freezing and boiling affords more delicate readings than using 100° for the identical range, and goes on to mention that temperature does not relate mathematically to other functions such as pressure, numbers, and length. For example, temperature is not squared or cubed, nor multiplied such as by changing decimal points. Although the metric system does have advantages over the Fahrenheit system, they are not as compelling as in the measurement of weights and distances. Boerhaave's article on the introduction of the thermometer into clinical 158 Book Reviews medicine includes his proof that heat is weightless. Lavoisier's writings on direct and indirect calorimetry are presented, and demonstrate that metabolic production of heat aids homeostasis. To further this concept, Claude Bernard's work on the "Milieu intérieur" is given. Seebeck's writing on the discovery of the thermometer and Lord Kelvin's description of the absolute temperature scale are embraced as important landmarks , as well as the description of the routine use of the thermometer in the hospital by Wunderlich and a plea by Ségrun for its use in the home. The above material relates to volume 1 . The second volume deals with location and proof of function of the heat centers and the mechanisms involved in maintenance of homeostasis. The communication from Aronsohn and Sachs, 1885, demonstrated the position of a heat center in the preoptic area of the hypothalamus. Isenschmid and Krehl, 1912, found the second heat center definitely posterior to the first one, near the mammillary bodies. Several articles dealing with methods and showing considerable ingenuity are reproduced which deal with the location, function, and interrelations of these centers. Ablation of the second center could produce Poikilothermie animals. A section is given to clinical use of hypothermia in human subjects. Smith and Fay, 1940...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 158-159
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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