312 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; b/w illustrations
Furry Logic looks in detail at the animals that use cool physics in weird and intriguing ways as part of their daily battle to survive. It details the role of physics in the lives of a number of animals, as uncovered by scientists researching the field of biomechanics.
Furry Logic is divided into seven chapters, each representing a separate arm of physics. Each chapter examines the animals' key features before describing the ways they use physics, how this was discovered, and what remains to be found out. We learn:
- how pistol shrimps can generate a force strong enough to destroy aquarium glass using their claws
- how whales hear using fat
- how cats and dogs lap up milk thanks to the laws of surface tension
- why reindeer use ultraviolet light for foraging
- how a male peacock's train generates infrasound' to attract a mate
- how ants navigate thanks to magnetic fields
- how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops
Furry Logic makes the incredible interdisciplinary world of animal biomechanics accessible to all, in an enthralling and entertaining read.
"Furry Logic is an important book that is equally inspiring and humbling."
"An appealing mix of familiar animals [...] and the life stories and weird research techniques of physicists and biologists, past and current, famous and unknown."
– The Daily Telegraph
"An enlightening and entertaining slant on two very different scientific disciplines, rendering a tricky subject accessible."
– BBC Wildlife
"A fun, informative chronicle of how myriad animals take advantage of the laws of physics."
– Science News
"Packed with insight and information."
– Jim Al-Khalili, physicist and broadcaster
"An intriguing, funny and clever insight into the physics of the animal world. You'll never look at a wet dog or a bloody-thirsty mosquito in the same way."
– Fran Scott, science presenter
"Wonderful, wild and witty."
– Ian Sample, science editor, Guardian
"Illuminating and intriguing. An entertaining book that provides fresh insight into how animals survive – providing food for thought whatever your level of scientific knowledge."
– Dame Athene Donald, Professor of Experimental Physics and Master of Churchill College, University of Cambridge
"There is nothing fuzzy about this book. With crisp prose and intuitive descriptions of physical processes, this book reveals how natural selection tunes the laws of physics to solve the myriad problems posed by nature [...] a must read."
– Daniel Rubenstein, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
"Readers don't need a background in physics to enjoy this engaging, educational title. Recommended for fans of popular science, including YA audiences."
– School Library Journay
1. Introduction – what do we mean by 'animal physics'?
2. Force and motion – Newton's laws in action
How snakes use friction to move, how the Komodo dragon uses a 'can-opener' technique to tear apart prey, and many more.
3. Heat and light – the electromagnetic spectrum
Why 'ultrablack' butterflies regulate their body heat by absorbing light, why dogs' paws don't freeze, and many more.
4. Sound – a question of waves
How peacock tails generate infrasound to attract a mate, why elephants generate seismic waves, how bats navigate with sound, and how snakes and scorpions hear surface vibrations in sand.
5. Fluid dynamics – how to go with the flow
How pondskaters walk on water, why all mammals empty their bladders in 21 seconds, and why blood doesn't pool in giraffes' necks.
6. Electricity and magnetism – two sides of the same coin
The secrets of the electric eel, the frogs and fish that detect currents, the sea turtles that use magnetic maps, and why trouts' noses follow magnetic fields.
7. Quantum mechanics – it's not all classical physics
The hornet that has its very own solar cell, why quantum entanglement affects how the Robin navigates using proteins in its retina, and the link between honeybee dances and quarks.
8. Unexplained mysteries
Why woodpeckers don't get headaches, why scorpions glow in the dark, and many more.
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Matin Durrani is the Editor of the international magazine Physics World. After his PhD at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge (on polymers), Matin did a postdoc before moving into publishing in the late nineties. He has been editor of Physics World since 2006.
Liz Kalaugher also has a PhD in physics, along with qualifications in Biological Sciences. She is the editor of environmentalresearchweb.org, a leading news resource on environmental issues.