Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds

Princeton University Press
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Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds offers an eye-opening look into how the characteristics of the physical world drive the designs of animals and plants. These characteristics impose limits but also create remarkable and subtle opportunities for the functional biology of organisms. In particular, Steven Vogel examines the size and scale, and trade-offs among different physical processes. He pays attention to how the forms and activities of animals and plants reflect the materials available to nature, and he explores the unique constraints and possibilities provided by fluid flow, structural design, and environmental forces.

Each chapter of the book investigates a facet of the physical world, including the drag on small projectiles; the importance of diffusion and convection; the size-dependence of acceleration; the storage, conduction, and dissipation of heat; the relationship among pressure, flow, and choice in biological pumps; and how elongate structures tune their relative twistiness and bendiness. Vogel considers design-determining factors all too commonly ignored, and builds a bridge between the world described by physics books and the reality experienced by all creatures. Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds contains a wealth of accessible information related to functional biology, and requires little more than a basic background in secondary-school science and mathematics.


Drawing examples from creatures of land, air, and water, the book demonstrates the many uses of biological diversity and how physical forces impact biological organisms.

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About the author

Steven Vogel is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Biology at Duke University. His numerous books include Comparative Biomechanics (Princeton), and Cats' Paws and Catapults (Norton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 24, 2009
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9781400833863
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Language
English
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Genres
Medical / Physiology
Science / Life Sciences / Biophysics
Science / Life Sciences / Developmental Biology
Science / Life Sciences / Evolution
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Why do you switch from walking to running at a specific speed? Why do tall trees rarely blow over in high winds? And why does a spore ejected into air at seventy miles per hour travel only a fraction of an inch? Comparative Biomechanics is the first and only textbook that takes a comprehensive look at the mechanical aspects of life--covering animals and plants, structure and movement, and solids and fluids. An ideal entry point into the ways living creatures interact with their immediate physical world, this revised and updated edition examines how the forms and activities of animals and plants reflect the materials available to nature, considers rules for fluid flow and structural design, and explores how organisms contend with environmental forces.

Drawing on physics and mechanical engineering, Steven Vogel looks at how animals swim and fly, modes of terrestrial locomotion, organism responses to winds and water currents, circulatory and suspension-feeding systems, and the relationship between size and mechanical design. He also investigates links between the properties of biological materials--such as spider silk, jellyfish jelly, and muscle--and their structural and functional roles. Early chapters and appendices introduce relevant physical variables for quantification, and problem sets are provided at the end of each chapter. Comparative Biomechanics is useful for physical scientists and engineers seeking a guide to state-of-the-art biomechanics. For a wider audience, the textbook establishes the basic biological context for applied areas--including ergonomics, orthopedics, mechanical prosthetics, kinesiology, sports medicine, and biomimetics--and provides materials for exhibit designers at science museums.


Problem sets at the ends of chapters
Appendices cover basic background information
Updated and expanded documentation and materials
Revised figures and text
Increased coverage of friction, viscoelastic materials, surface tension, diverse modes of locomotion, and biomimetics

There is no part of our bodies that fully rotates—be it a wrist or ankle or arm in a shoulder socket, we are made to twist only so far. And yet there is no more fundamental human invention than the wheel—a rotational mechanism that accomplishes what our physical form cannot. Throughout history, humans have developed technologies powered by human strength, complementing the physical abilities we have while overcoming our weaknesses. Providing a unique history of the wheel and other rotational devices—like cranks, cranes, carts, and capstans—Why the Wheel Is Round examines the contraptions and tricks we have devised in order to more efficiently move—and move through—the physical world.

Steven Vogel combines his engineering expertise with his remarkable curiosity about how things work to explore how wheels and other mechanisms were, until very recently, powered by the push and pull of the muscles and skeletal systems of humans and other animals. Why the Wheel Is Round explores all manner of treadwheels, hand-spikes, gears, and more, as well as how these technologies diversified into such things as hand-held drills and hurdy-gurdies. Surprisingly, a number of these devices can be built out of everyday components and materials, and Vogel’s accessible and expansive book includes instructions and models so that inspired readers can even attempt to make their own muscle-powered technologies, like trebuchets and ballista.

Appealing to anyone fascinated by the history of mechanics and technology as well as to hobbyists with home workshops, Why the Wheel Is Round offers a captivating exploration of our common technological heritage based on the simple concept of rotation. From our leg muscles powering the gears of a bicycle to our hands manipulating a mouse on a roller ball, it will be impossible to overlook the amazing feats of innovation behind our daily devices.
There is no part of our bodies that fully rotates—be it a wrist or ankle or arm in a shoulder socket, we are made to twist only so far. And yet there is no more fundamental human invention than the wheel—a rotational mechanism that accomplishes what our physical form cannot. Throughout history, humans have developed technologies powered by human strength, complementing the physical abilities we have while overcoming our weaknesses. Providing a unique history of the wheel and other rotational devices—like cranks, cranes, carts, and capstans—Why the Wheel Is Round examines the contraptions and tricks we have devised in order to more efficiently move—and move through—the physical world.

Steven Vogel combines his engineering expertise with his remarkable curiosity about how things work to explore how wheels and other mechanisms were, until very recently, powered by the push and pull of the muscles and skeletal systems of humans and other animals. Why the Wheel Is Round explores all manner of treadwheels, hand-spikes, gears, and more, as well as how these technologies diversified into such things as hand-held drills and hurdy-gurdies. Surprisingly, a number of these devices can be built out of everyday components and materials, and Vogel’s accessible and expansive book includes instructions and models so that inspired readers can even attempt to make their own muscle-powered technologies, like trebuchets and ballista.

Appealing to anyone fascinated by the history of mechanics and technology as well as to hobbyists with home workshops, Why the Wheel Is Round offers a captivating exploration of our common technological heritage based on the simple concept of rotation. From our leg muscles powering the gears of a bicycle to our hands manipulating a mouse on a roller ball, it will be impossible to overlook the amazing feats of innovation behind our daily devices.
Why do you switch from walking to running at a specific speed? Why do tall trees rarely blow over in high winds? And why does a spore ejected into air at seventy miles per hour travel only a fraction of an inch? Comparative Biomechanics is the first and only textbook that takes a comprehensive look at the mechanical aspects of life--covering animals and plants, structure and movement, and solids and fluids. An ideal entry point into the ways living creatures interact with their immediate physical world, this revised and updated edition examines how the forms and activities of animals and plants reflect the materials available to nature, considers rules for fluid flow and structural design, and explores how organisms contend with environmental forces.

Drawing on physics and mechanical engineering, Steven Vogel looks at how animals swim and fly, modes of terrestrial locomotion, organism responses to winds and water currents, circulatory and suspension-feeding systems, and the relationship between size and mechanical design. He also investigates links between the properties of biological materials--such as spider silk, jellyfish jelly, and muscle--and their structural and functional roles. Early chapters and appendices introduce relevant physical variables for quantification, and problem sets are provided at the end of each chapter. Comparative Biomechanics is useful for physical scientists and engineers seeking a guide to state-of-the-art biomechanics. For a wider audience, the textbook establishes the basic biological context for applied areas--including ergonomics, orthopedics, mechanical prosthetics, kinesiology, sports medicine, and biomimetics--and provides materials for exhibit designers at science museums.


Problem sets at the ends of chapters
Appendices cover basic background information
Updated and expanded documentation and materials
Revised figures and text
Increased coverage of friction, viscoelastic materials, surface tension, diverse modes of locomotion, and biomimetics

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