Limits Of The Human Body

This article written by Natalie Wolchover asks an interesting question: just what are the limitations of the mind and body? Ms. Wolchover's research explores matters like the body's capability to function without sleep, how much radiation it can absorb, how much it can accelerate, and what environmental changes it can endure before a person dies. It is clear that the topic of her piece is the exploration of the boundaries of the human body. Her purpose is to give information to the curious, and to inspire. Wolchover's tone is informative and relatively personal, like she is speaking to the reader eye-to-eye, shown in phrases such as: "Even a single all-nighter impairs driving abilities as much as being drunk.". This is an attempt to relate to the reader's humanity; she's saying, 'we've all been there, so we all know the feeling', in that sentence. This proves that her angle is one of educational camaraderie. The Diction used in this article is informal; Ms. Wolchover uses the personal pronoun "we" in several cases, as well as consistent descriptions and emotion (shown in "The rats consistently died after two weeks of this misery.".) In regards to how long one can last without sleep, Wolchover refers to two cases which showed a person deteriorating to a mentally vegetable-like state after eleven days without a wink of slumber. Since performing an experiment on humans to find the true answer to the question would be unethical, there is no conclusive evidence to the question, but she explains that an experiment which was performed on rats which determined that they died after approximately 14 days. Wolchover suggests that the human body cannot survive longer than about 300 hours (13 days) without sleep. Wolchover asks how much radiation a human can absorb before dying. She states that, according to nuclear engineer Peter Caracappa, 5 to 6 Siverts of radiation over the course of a couple minutes will damage the cells beyond repair. Doses over a length of time will be less likely to kill immediately because the body repairs itself; those doses would be more likely to cause cancer. So, because the body repairs itself, it is somewhat inconclusive as to exactly how much radiation a person can absorb in total over the course of time, but it is known that significant amounts of radiation over little time will surely kill. Thirdly, Wolchover discusses how much acceleration a body can withstand. She says that NASA, as well as military researchers, have determined lateral acceleration capable of tearing apart internal organs at 14 Gs, but simple forward and backward acceleration can be endured at around 45 Gs. However, the body deteriorates completely at 50 Gs of acceleration of the same kind. In her final passage, she answers the question of "what environmental changes can we handle?". Wolchover explains that, after exposure for ten minutes at 60 degrees Celsius, most humans contract hypothermia. When the body heat temperature drops to 21 degrees C, a person usually expires. Ms. Wolchover continues to explain: "People can live indefinitely in environments that range between roughly 40 degrees F and 95 degrees F (4 and 35 degrees C), if the latter temperature occurs at no more than 50 percent relative humidity.". When it comes to the topic of surviving in environments with abnormal oxygen levels, such as in outer space, a person will die at an oxygen level lower than 11%. However odd the topic, this article is most definitely educational, and Wolchover does a good job to answer the questions she'd originally proposed. It's a well-written, interesting, and comprehensible article; I'd most surely recommend it! X Christie Howard, Jacqueline. "Limits Of The Human Body: How Much Sleep Deprivation, Radiation & Acceleration Can We Survive?." The Huffington Post., 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 29 Jan. 2014. <>. Source: Article, Source:

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