Life, Death and the Limits of the Human Body
By Kevin Fong
'If you want to know what the human body can take, and why we must continue to push ourselves beyond the limit in the name of exploration, then read this book.' Professor Brian Cox
In anaesthetist Dr Kevin Fong's television programmes he has often demonstrated the impact of extremes on the human body by using his own body as a 'guinea pig'. So Dr Fong is well placed to share his experience of the sheer audacity of medical practice at extreme physiological limits, where human life is balanced on a knife edge.
Through gripping accounts of extraordinary events and pioneering medicine, Dr Fong explores how our body responds when tested by the extremes of heat and cold, vacuum and altitude, age and disease. He shows how science, technology and medicine have taken what was once lethal in the world and made it survivable.
This is not only a book about medicine, but also about exploration in its broadest sense - and about how, by probing the very limits of our biology, we may ultimately return with a better appreciation of how our bodies work, of what life is, and what it means to be human.
Kevin Fong is a doctor of medicine with a special interest in human space exploration and the medical challenges of living and working in extreme environments. He is a lecturer in physiology at University College London and has worked with NASA at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He currently works as a consultant anaesthetist at University College London Hospital, is founder and associate director of the Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine and is a Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow.
Dr Kevin Fong's broadcast career includes the acclaimed BBC TV documentaries Space Shuttle: The Final Mission, Back from the Dead and How to Avoid Mistakes in Surgery; Channel 4's series Extremes A&E, as well as presenting science programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.
- Other details
- Publication date:
14 Mar 2013
- Page count:
Hodder & Stoughton
'It would be hard to find anyone better qualified to write a book on the limits of human physiology than Dr Kevin Fong. His experiences in human spaceflight at NASA, in frontline medicine, and his deep scientific knowledge, shine through. If you want to know what the human body can take, and why we must continue to push ourselves beyond the limit in the name of exploration, then read this book.' — Professor Brian Cox
'I was hooked. The book could easily have ended up as a series of Boy's Own tales of derring-do, but Fong elegantly balances heroism with rationalism, courage with compassion, shock with humility and humour.' — Dr Alice Roberts, Observer
'If you have a sense of adventure and the miracle of life within you, then this book is for you... [Kevin Fong is] Brian Cox with a stethoscope.' — Times Higher Education Supplement
'It's terrifying but fascinating stuff... a gripping read.' — Guardian
Fong has come up with an often fascinating and actually rather inspiring account of western medicine's ever-increasing expertise. — Daily Mail
'You don't have to have a degree in astrophysics or medicine to enjoy this book, just an interest in humanity and the human body. Since we all have one, that would be just about everyone.' — Scotsman
'His background makes him particularly well suited to writing a book about the limits of the human body, which he does with considerable skill and detail... This is an excellent book that makes you appreciate our species' remarkable resilience.' — Michael Mosley, Focus