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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/507

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THE HUMAN BODY AS AN ENGINE.

setting free a definite quantity of heat for every pound of fuel so burned. So, in exactly the same way, oxygen, which has been taken up by the blood from the air in the lungs, unites with carbon and hydrogen in the tissues of the body and forms carbonic acid and water, yielding precisely the same amount of heat as though the combustion had occurred in a furnace. This idea of food, that it is literally fuel, is a very suggestive one. And as fuels differ in the quantity of ash contained and the amount of heat produced, so food materials differ in the quantity of undigestible residue and in their heat-producing power.

Remembering the analogy of the steam engine, let us now inquire what becomes of the energy supplied to the body in the fuel foods eaten, and which is turned into heat by this process of combustion constantly going on.

1. A large amount of heat is constantly being expended in keeping the body warm. Like the locomotive, the body is warmer than the surrounding air, and is constantly losing heat to the atmosphere. Unlike the locomotive, however, the body has a nearly uniform temperature throughout, namely, 98 degrees Fahr. The delicate regulation of temperature which is automatically maintained in the animal body is one of the wonders of physiology.

2. A second portion of energy is required to do the mechanical work of the body. When a locomotive hauls a loaded train up grade, or steams up grade alone, it is doing work in proportion to the total weight and the height to which it is carried. So when a man walks up hill or climbs a ladder he is lifting his body against the force of gravity, and hence doing work. If his weight be 200 pounds he is doing twice as much work as though he weighed only 100 pounds. If a man weighing 150 pounds climbs Bunker Hill Monument (220 feet), 33,000 foot-pounds of work will then be done; and if he succeeds in making the ascent in one minute, he would be doing work at the rate of one full horse power for that minute. If he climbs a mountain two miles high in three hours and twelve minutes he would be doing work in so lifting his body at the rate of one quarter of a horse power. This is, of course, a faster rate of work than an average man could maintain. In all the functions of daily life the body is necessarily doing some mechanical work. Even dressing and eating require a certain expenditure of energy, and in ordinary business and manual labor the amount of mechanical work done is considerable. Moreover, a large amount of work is done by the heart in pumping the blood through the circulatory system, and by the chest in respiration. This, then, the internal and external work done, as in the locomotive, represents the second portion of energy derived from the food eaten.

3. The warm air, carbonic acid gas and water vapor passing away from the lungs in respiration carry with them a large amount of heat.