Comparative Biomechanics: Life's Physical World, Second Edition

Steven Vogel

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? This is the first and only textbook that takes a comprehensive look at the mechanical aspects of life. 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 Vogel, professor emeritus of biology, 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 and their structural and functional roles. This volume 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.