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Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and Peopleby Steven Vogel
Synopses & Reviews
Nature and humans build their devices with the same earthly materials and use them in the same air and water, pulled by the same gravity. Why, then, do their designs diverge so sharply? Humans, for instance, love right angles, while nature's angles are rarely right and usually rounded. Our technology goes around on wheels--and on rotating pulleys, gears, shafts, and cams--yet in nature only the tiny propellers of bacteria spin as true wheels. Our hinges turn because hard parts slide around each other, whereas nature's hinges (a rabbit's ear, for example) more often swing by bending flexible materials. In this marvelously surprising, witty book, Steven Vogel compares these two mechanical worlds, introduces the reader to his field of biomechanics, and explains how the nexus of physical law, size, and convenience of construction determine the designs of both people and nature.
"Full of ideas and well-explained principles that will bring new understanding of everyday things to both scientists and non-scientists alike."--R. McNeill Alexander,
Nature and humans build their devices with the same earthly materials. Why do their designs diverge so sharply? Vogel compares these two worlds and introduces the reader to his field of biomechanics, explaining how the nexus of physical law, size, and convenience of construction determines the designs of both people and nature. Illustrations.
About the Author
Steven Vogel is James B. Duke Professor of Biology at Duke University. He is the author of Cats' Paws and Catapults.
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