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Comparative Biomechanics: Life’s Physical World

Comparative Biomechanics: Life’s Physical World 



  • Steven Vogel  


  • Hardcover: 582 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691112975
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691112978
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 8.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.64 pounds


Book Description

Why do you shift from walking to running at a particular speed? How can we predict transition speeds for animals of different sizes? Why must the flexible elastic of arterial walls behave differently than a rubber tube or balloon? How do leaves manage to expose a broad expanse of surface while suffering only a small fraction of the drag of flags in high winds?

The field of biomechanics–how living things move and work–hasn’t seen a new general textbook in more than two decades. Here a leading investigator and teacher lays out the key concepts of biomechanics using examples drawn from throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. Up-to-date and comprehensive, this is also the only book to give thorough coverage to both major subfields of biomechanics: fluid and solid mechanics.

Steven Vogel explains how biomechanics makes use of models and methods drawn from physics and mechanical engineering to investigate a wide range of general questions–from how animals swim and fly and the modes of terrestrial locomotion to the way organisms respond to wind and water currents and the operation of circulatory and suspension-feeding systems. He looks also at the relationships between the properties of biological materials–spider silk, jellyfish jelly, muscle, and more–and their various structural and functional roles.

While written primarily for biology majors and graduate students in biology, this text will be useful for physical scientists and engineers seeking a sense of the state of the art of biomechanics and a guide to its rather scattered literature. For a still wider audience, it establishes the basic biological context for such applied areas as ergonomics, orthopedics, mechanical prosthetics, kinesiology, sports medicine, and biomimetics.

"Authoritative, beautifully written, witty, and accessible, this book is the first general treatment of comparative biomechanics for undergraduate students in almost twenty years."–R. McNeill Alexander, Fellow of the Royal Society, University of Leeds

"It is always a pleasure to read a book by Steven Vogel. In Comparative Biomechanics, he presents a wealth of new fun facts and quirky insights while providing the first concise single-volume overview of the entire breadth of biomechanics. Up until now, anyone teaching a general course had to rely on at least two texts. This book represents an immense job by an author who is conversant with the whole field and an expert hand in cutting to the core of its principles."–Mark Denny, Stanford University 

About the Author(s)

Steven Vogel is James B. Duke Professor of Biology at Duke University. He is the author of "Vital Circuits, Cats’ Paws and Catapults" and, from Princeton, "Life in Moving Fluids" and the prize-winning "Life’s Devices".  



 Best introductory physics textbook ever, June 24, 2004

This book would be a fantastic text for an introductory physics class, eg, mechanics classes aimed at future doctors. It begins with the "simple" problem of walking, which can be understood as an oscillation, with the frequency tuned to the length of your legs. From there, the book proceeds to dimensional analysis, and treats the biomechanical universe as a set of simple tubes, surfaces, flows, beams, and levers, all amenable to simple calculation and estimation. This book contains more real, relevant physics than any introductory physics text (with the possible exception of the Feynman lectures, which are totally unsuited for first-year students). It is the best physics textbook we know. (Review co-written by Dr Sanjoy Mahajan, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge).