The Energy of Life: The Science of What Makes Our Minds and Bodies Work

Guy Brown, Author
Guy Brown, Author Free Press $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-86257-6
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On any given day, you may exhibit--or need, or want--""energy"": the get-up-and-go that allows you to apply for a job, run down the street or just read this page. Your body also requires, and gets (by processing food and oxygen), ""energy"" in the sense that physicists use the word--what your brain needs in the form of glucose, and what microscopic bodies called mitochondria package as a chemical called ATP. Brown, a biochemist at Cambridge University, has written an accessible book about both kinds of energy and the links between them. He explains how energy circulates in the body at the molecular level and how it controls what goes on in organs and organisms. ATP, mitochondria and calcium ions go to work whenever you move a muscle. You and your cat and her fleas all have a ""metabolic rate,"" the speed with which an organism uses energy: multiply metabolic rate by life span for an assortment of animals, and you'll discover that ""the total amount of energy used in an average lifetime is roughly equal"" among species--though human beings are an exception, living longer than we ""should."" The brain has its own systems by which energy and information circulate every minute and every day. After elucidating those systems' roles in sex and sleep, Brown concludes with a slightly platitudinous chapter on emotional energy and fatigue, recommending regular exercise and ""attainable"" mental goals. Some readers may object to Brown's rapid pace and detect a few oversimplifications; most, though, will welcome this knowledgeable introduction to ""body energy and mind energy what it is, how we get it, and how we lose it again."" (Apr.)
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