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Glimpses of Creatures in their Physical Worlds

By: Steven Vogel

302 pages, 16 halftones, 50 line illus, 6 tables

Princeton University Press

Paperback | Oct 2009 | #180679 | ISBN-13: 9780691138077
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £40.99 $54/€46 approx
Hardback | Oct 2009 | #180680 | ISBN-13: 9780691138060
Out of Print Details

About this book

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.

If what you desire in a readable science book is food for thought, Glimpses of Creatures in their Physical Worlds provides a feast. Biologists, engineers, and physicists--indeed, anyone with curiosity about the natural world--will revel in this smorgasbord of biomechanical ideas. -- Mark Denny, American Scientist Such a book could be written only by someone with a rich knowledge of biomechanics, and Vogel, an emeritus professor of biology at Duke University, fits the bill. Considered one of the founders of the biomechanics community in the US, his distinguished research career has focused on organism-fluid interactions and such diverse topics as the behavior of leaves in the wind, passive ventilation of prairie-dog burrows, and airflow through the branching antennae of some moths. His breadth of knowledge is clearly reflected in the examples presented and the creative thought embodied in Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds. Vogel uses the same approachable, entertaining writing style... [T]his book is sure to serve as an inspiring entry into the field of biomechanics. -- Stacey Combes, Physics Today It is a fine book and emphasizes important relationships too often neglected. -- Choice As ever, Vogel is inspiring and his insights are remarkable. -- Henry Bennet-Clark, BioScience


Preface vii Chapter One: Two Ways to Move Material 1 Chapter Two: The Bioballistics of Small Projectiles 18 Chapter Three: Getting Up to Speed 39 Chapter Four: Moving Heat Around 58 Chapter Five: Maintaining Temperature 80 Chapter Six: Gravity and Life in the Air 95 Chapter Seven: Gravity and Life on the Ground 116 Chapter Eight: Gravity and Life in Water 141 Chapter Nine: Making and Maintaining Liquid Water 164 Chapter Ten: Pumping Fluids through Conduits 184 Chapter Eleven: To Twist or Bend When Stressed 209 Chapter Twelve: Keeping Up Upward and Down Downward 232 List of Symbols 259 References and Index of Citations 263 Index 289

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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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