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Comparative Biomechanics:
Life's Physical World
Second edition
Steven Vogel

Hardcover | 2013 | $99.50 | ($69.65) / £69.95 | (£48.97) | ISBN: 9780691155661
640 pp. | 8 x 10 | 11 halftones. 250 line illus. 40 tables.
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Instructional Materials: An accumulation of instructional material to accompany the book will be sent to faculty who contact Steve Vogel at svogel at duke dot edu. Please include a note letting Steve know a little about who you are. The files include classroom and do-it-yourself demonstrations, lists (alphabetical and topical) of useful books, additional problems, and potential essay assignments—plus answers to the end-of-chapter and additional problems. If you are using the book for a course and want to limit local dissemination of these latter, tell Steve and he'll do his best to comply. Still more material can be found in the digital library of the website of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.

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

Steven Vogel is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Biology at Duke University. His numerous books include Glimpses of Creatures in Their Physical Worlds (Princeton) and Cats’ Paws and Catapults (Norton).


"[T]his is a fantastic book! . . . [T]here can be no doubt, this is a science book of the highest and finest quality. Students in biology and physics, including (mechanical) engineers, will find in this book a sound guideline for an alternative view of their respective disciplines. It is a source of inspiration, also for the interested layman, for further reflection on the realm of physics in the biological world."--Harold Heatwole, Integrative and Comparative Biology

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    File created: 9/19/2015

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