Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People

Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People

by Steven Vogel, Kathryn K. Davis
     
 

ISBN-10: 0393319903

ISBN-13: 9780393319903

Pub. Date: 01/28/2000

Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

"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
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?…  See more details below

Overview

"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
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."This elegant comparison of human and biological technology will forever change the way you look at each."—Michael LaBarbera, American Scientist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393319903
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
847,768
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.85(d)

Table of Contents

Preface9
1Noncoincident Worlds15
2Two Schools of Design20
3The Matter of Magnitude39
4Surfaces, Angles, and Corners57
5The Stiff and the Soft82
6Two Routes to Rigidity106
7Pulling versus Pushing128
8Engines for the Mechanical Worlds153
9Putting Engines to Work177
10About Pumps, Jets, and Ships205
11Making Widgets229
12Copying, in Retrospect249
13Copying, Present and Prospective276
14Contrasts, Convergences, and Consequences289
Notes313
References343
Index363

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