Human Errors
eBook - ePub

Human Errors

A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes

Nathan H. Lents

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  1. 256 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Human Errors

A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes

Nathan H. Lents

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About This Book

A biology professor's illuminating tour of the physical imperfections—from faulty knees to junk DNA—that make us human. ¶"A funny, fascinating catalog of our collective shortcomings that's tough to put down."— Discover ¶ We humans like to think of ourselves as highly evolved creatures. But if we are supposedly evolution's greatest creation, why do we have such bad knees? Why do we catch head colds so often—two hundred times more often than a dog does? How come our wrists have so many useless bones? Why is the vast majority of our genetic code pointless? And are we really supposed to swallow and breathe through the same narrow tube? Surely there's been some kind of mistake? As professor of biology Nathan H. Lents explains in Human Errors, our evolutionary history is indeed nothing if not a litany of mistakes, each more entertaining and enlightening than the last. The human body is one big pile of compromises. But that is also a testament to our greatness: as Lents shows, humans have so many design flaws precisely because we are very, very good at getting around them. A rollicking, deeply informative tour of humans' four-billion-year-and-counting evolutionary saga, Human Errors both celebrates our imperfections and offers an unconventional accounting of the cost of our success.

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Index

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
Page numbers in italics refer to figures.

A

abortion, spontaneous, 102–4
Achilles tendon, 24–25
ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), 22–24, 22, 28
adaptation, 31
adolescents, risk-taking, 187–91
aging, 211, 214
agriculture, 46
AIDS, 74
alien life, 203–7, 208, 209, 210
allergies, 11, 140–46
alpha-linolenic acid, 51–52
Alu, 87–89, 90
American Autoimmune-Related Diseases Association, 138
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 102
amino acids, 48–52
anastomoses, 150–52, 151
anchoring bias, 180–81
anecdotes, 184–87
anemia, 44, 55, 56, 57, 58
animals, nonhuman
ankles, 24–25, 28–29, 29
anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), 22–24, 22, 28
antibodies, 128, 132–33, 141–42
antigens, 140
AO-4, 32–33, 32
apes, 12, 21
apoptosis, 136
arms, bones in, 28, 31
Attenborough, David, 200
Australopithecus afarensis, 107
autoimmune disease. See disease, autoimmune

B

B cells, 136
B vitamins, 37–38, 43, 44–47
babies, 20

Table of contents