448 pages, 44 b/w photos, 40 b/w illustrations, 9 tables
From Galileo, who used the hollow stalks of grass to demonstrate the idea that peripherally located construction materials provide most of the resistance to bending forces, to Leonardo da Vinci, whose illustrations of the parachute are alleged to be based on his study of the dandelion's pappus and the maple tree's samara, many of our greatest physicists, mathematicians, and engineers have learned much from studying plants.
A symbiotic relationship between botany and the fields of physics, mathematics, engineering, and chemistry continues today, as is revealed in Plant Physics. The result of a long-term collaboration between plant evolutionary biologist Karl J. Niklas and physicist Hanns-Christof Spatz, Plant Physics presents a detailed account of the principles of classical physics, evolutionary theory, and plant biology in order to explain the complex interrelationships among plant form, function, environment, and evolutionary history. Covering a wide range of topics – from the development and evolution of the basic plant body and the ecology of aquatic unicellular plants to mathematical treatments of light attenuation through tree canopies and the movement of water through plants' roots, stems, and leaves – Plant Physics is destined to inspire students and professionals alike to traverse disciplinary membranes.
"[A]n interesting interdisciplinary glimpse into the physics of plant biology [...] A useful resource for advanced courses in botany, plant physiology, and biophysics. Recommended."
- J. Z. Kiss, Miami University, Choice
"There is no better way to learn about plants than studying physics and to learn physics than studying plants. This book does just so. In a comprehensive but not overwhelming manner, the authors provide an overview of carefully selected topics that beautifully link descriptions of plant physiological and cellular activity with explanations of the physical forces that shape plant structure and function [...] I enjoyed reading this volume and would recommend it as a valuable addition to the bookshelves in all plant biology or physics graduate rooms and for all plant biology or physics teachers."
- Maciej Zwieniecki, Harvard University, Quarterly Review of Biology
"Brilliant [...] This is truly a lovely book."
- Plant Science Bulletin
"Plant Physics will inspire and interest as well as provide a rock solid foundation for further study."
- R. S. Shorter, Winchester College, Contemporary Physics
"Karl J. Niklas and Hanns-Christof Spatz have written a remarkable book, unique in the field of biomechanics. Starting from basic physical principles, it explains a wide range of phenomena in plants, from fluid transport to the dispersal of seeds in air and water to structural behavior. The experimental and theoretical tools described provide a useful primer. A valuable reference for researchers interested in how plants work from a physical perspective."
- Lorna Gibson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Here's the physical world of plants in all its splendor – and multidimensionality – brought to bear on the rich diversity of both extant and extinct forms. Niklas and Spatz's theme, which deserves attention, is that since plants (and animals, of course) cannot change physics, physical laws and processes must bear strongly on the course of their evolution."
- Steven Vogel, Duke University
Frequently Used Symbols
CHAPTER 1. An Introduction to Some Basic Concepts
CHAPTER 2. Environmental Biophysics
CHAPTER 3. Plant Water Relations
CHAPTER 4. The Mechanical Behavior of Materials
CHAPTER 5. The Effects of Geometry, Shape, and Size
CHAPTER 6. Fluid Mechanics
CHAPTER 7. Plant Electrophysiology
CHAPTER 8. A Synthesis: The Properties of Selected Plant Materials, Cells, and Tissues
CHAPTER 9. Experimental Tools
CHAPTER 10. Theoretical Tools
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Karl J. Niklas is the Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor of Plant Biology in the Department of Plant Biology at Cornell University. He is the author of Plant Biomechanics, Plant Allometry, and The Evolutionary Biology of Plants, all published by the University of Chicago Press.
Hanns-Christof Spatz is Professor Emeritus of Biophysics in the Faculty of Biology at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg in Germany.