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Bill Bryson - The ##BEST##

The body is complex and still largely uncharted. Nobody knows why, of all mammals, humans are the only ones with chins or why when touching something, fingerprints are left behind. The body is mysterious, and the facts that Bryson does present in his book only help to make it seem more magical. In an example he gives, there are two meters of DNA in every single nucleated cell of the human body, and if laid end to end, it would stretch for 10 billion miles, effectively extending all the way to Pluto .

Bill Bryson - The

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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.

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.

"Altogether according to RSC calculations, fifty-nine elements are needed to construct a human being. Six of these -- carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus -- account for 99.1 percent of what makes us, but much of the rest is a bit unexpected. Who would have thought that we would be incomplete without some molybdenum inside us, or vanadium, manganese, tin, and copper? Our requirements for some of these, it must be said, are surpassingly modest and are measured in parts per million or even parts per billion. We need, for instance, just 20 atoms of cobalt and 30 of chromium for every 999,999,9991/2 atoms of everything else.

"The most remarkable part of all is your DNA. You have a metre of it packed into every cell, and so many cells that if you formed all the DNA in your body into a single fine strand it would stretch ten billion miles, to beyond Pluto. Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system. You are in the most literal sense cosmic." 041b061a72


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