Indeed, it is possible to approach the study of how organisms work from a nontraditional perspective, one organized around the physics and engineering of living things. This is the thesis of Steven Vogel's monumental Comparative Biomechanics. The biomechanical approach to physiology is not new—biomechanicists are fond of tracing their intellectual lineage back to the seminal work by Gallileo on the scaling of bones—and the field has grown rapidly in recent years.
During this expansion, three texts have served as core tools for teaching biomechanics: Mechanical Design in Organisms Wainwright et al.
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Together, these texts provided a broad introduction to solid and fluid mechanics and their application to plants and animals, but teaching from them is problematic. Mechanical Design in Organisms is aimed at the practicing biomechanicist, and its compendious detail is likely to leave students gasping for air.
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Animal Mechanics admirably captures the spirit of the biomechanical approach, but the lack of intermediate steps in Alexander's mathematical treatment can be a frustration for undergraduates. Life in Moving Fluids is pitched right, but, as the name implies, it deals only with the mechanics of fluids. What practicing biomechanics has needed is a single, up-to-date, all-encompassing text that can serve as the basis for a unified course in the mechanical perspective on organismal function. Hallelujah, our prayers have been answered! Comparative Biomechanics is just the text we have been waiting for.
In this large but lively tome, Vogel provides an introduction to both the mechanics of fluids air and water and the mechanics [End Page ] of structural materials.
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These basic engineering principles are then applied to a wealth of biological topics, with a special emphasis on the mechanics of locomotion. Boundary-layer flows, life at low Reynolds numbers, flight, swimming, and the plumbing of circulatory systems are all introduced and tied together.
The mechanics of simple and composite materials, beams, shells, and even muscle; it's all here. As in Vogel's previous books, mathematics is kept to a minimum, and where employed, it is well explained. Vogel's knack for pithy analogies and puns keeps the reader amused and engaged my personal favorite is reference to the jump of a flea as a "leveraged flyout". Unusual in a text of this size, I found no errors worth mentioning.
Comparative Biomechanics by Vogel
Vogel is clearly conversant with the whole field, and expert at cutting to the core of its principles. It will be easy to teach undergraduates from this text, and the breadth of material will allow instructors to pick and choose topics as appropriate.
Although primarily intended as an introductory level teaching tool, Comparative Biomechanics will nonetheless be useful to old hands in the field. There is little that is substantively new here readers of Vogel's earlier books will recognize much that is familiar, including many of the jokes , but the synthesis of all of biomechanics is compelling, and Vogel has done a wonderful job of compiling references to recent work.
The final chapter on the "Contexts of Biomechanics" serves well as a call for future work, and the excellent index makes it easy to find just the offbeat fact one is looking for. As an introduction to a physical perspective on physiology, Comparative Biomechanics will serve as the standard of excellence for many years to come.
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.
Biomechanics of human movement and its clinical applications - ScienceDirect
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. 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. Authoritative, beautifully written, witty, and accessible, this book is the first general treatment of comparative biomechanics for undergraduate students in almost twenty years. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books.
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