Engineering Animals: How Life Works

Overview

The alarm calls of birds make them difficult for predators to locate, while the howl of wolves and the croak of bullfrogs are designed to carry across long distances. From an engineer's perspective, how do such specialized adaptations among living things really work? And how does physics constrain evolution, channeling it in particular directions?

Writing with wit and a richly informed sense of wonder, Denny and McFadzean offer an expert look at animals as works of engineering, ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$32.89
BN.com price
(Save 6%)$35.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (13) from $4.89   
  • New (7) from $33.69   
  • Used (6) from $4.87   
Engineering Animals

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$19.49
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$35.00 List Price

Overview

The alarm calls of birds make them difficult for predators to locate, while the howl of wolves and the croak of bullfrogs are designed to carry across long distances. From an engineer's perspective, how do such specialized adaptations among living things really work? And how does physics constrain evolution, channeling it in particular directions?

Writing with wit and a richly informed sense of wonder, Denny and McFadzean offer an expert look at animals as works of engineering, each exquisitely adapted to a specific manner of survival, whether that means spinning webs or flying across continents or hunting in the dark-or writing books. This particular book, containing more than a hundred illustrations, conveys clearly, for engineers and nonengineers alike, the physical principles underlying animal structure and behavior.

Pigeons, for instance-when understood as marvels of engineering-are flying remote sensors: they have wideband acoustical receivers, hi-res optics, magnetic sensing, and celestial navigation. Albatrosses expend little energy while traveling across vast southern oceans, by exploiting a technique known to glider pilots as dynamic soaring. Among insects, one species of fly can locate the source of a sound precisely, even though the fly itself is much smaller than the wavelength of the sound it hears. And that big-brained, upright Great Ape? Evolution has equipped us to figure out an important fact about the natural world: that there is more to life than engineering, but no life at all without it.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Incorporating their knowledge of systems engineering into the study of how animals navigate their environment, authors Denny, a retired aerospace engineer who specialized in radar and sonar system, and McFadzean, an oil and gas consultant, have written a fascinating study sure to delight naturalists, hunters, and communications specialists. The two apply their technical expertise to a range of problems taken from the animal kingdom: how animals target their prey, the population dynamics underlying predator-prey relationships, how bird migratory patterns depend upon sense perception, global solar energy flows, and more. Hunters, science buffs, and techies alike will especially be fascinated by discussions of target acquisition and tracking. The authors provide a wide overview combined with convincing details, while emphasizing the wide gap between our ability to model the behavior of living beings and create robotic devices and the power and precision of nature. After reading this book a walk through the woods will never be the same. 100 line illustrations, 18 halftones. (May)
New Scientist

Both physiology primer and engineering textbook, Engineering Animals covers the basics of how physics constrains animal structure and function, all the while marveling at nature's exquisite and often surprising solutions...Engineering Animals is a celebration of nature's ingenuity...This is an engaging journey through animal adaptation for engineers and non-engineers alike.
— Cian O'Luanaigh

Nature
From soaring albatrosses to croaking bullfrogs, different creatures exploit various aspects of engineering to help them fly, hunt, or communicate. In a clear and well-illustrated account, former aerospace engineers Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean describe the principles of physics that underlie animals' sense of smell, their use of sonar, and how they flock, signal to each other, and consume energy.
Physics World
A remarkable book...Written in a light and engaging style, but with plenty of references and footnotes, Engineering Animals is perfect for physicists who, like your reviewer, abandoned formal studies in biology at an early age and have always wondered what they missed.
Science

Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean's Engineering Animals: How Life Works provides a generally engaging engineer's perspective on how animals are built and how they function...The authors do a nice job of making how animals work an enticing subject.
— Andrew A. Biewener

Choice

This wonderful book is a joy to read and will be of interest to both engineers and biologists...[Denny and McFadzean] have built upon their training in both engineering and physics to produce a superbly written work; the explanations of engineering principles at the heart of animal design are entertaining, intuitive, insightful, and concise.
— M. J. O'Donnell

J. Scott Turner
Denny and McFadzean, both having distinguished careers in bioengineering and biomechanics, draw deeply from their experience to explore engineering principles at work in functioning and design of living things. The book is endlessly fascinating, addressing a diversity of topics, from the thermodynamics of living processes to the principles of communications.
Steven Vogel
Yes, animals are engineered - by that designer of long experience, natural selection. Viewing them as products of an exquisitely sophisticated technology, as Denny and McFadzean do here, cannot fail to enrich one's appreciation of the living reality of which we're parts. At the same time, the viewpoint provides a fine mirror in which to appreciate our own, widely divergent, human technology.
New Scientist - Cian O'Luanaigh
Both physiology primer and engineering textbook, Engineering Animals covers the basics of how physics constrains animal structure and function, all the while marveling at nature's exquisite and often surprising solutions...Engineering Animals is a celebration of nature's ingenuity...This is an engaging journey through animal adaptation for engineers and non-engineers alike.
Science - Andrew A. Biewener
Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean's Engineering Animals: How Life Works provides a generally engaging engineer's perspective on how animals are built and how they function...The authors do a nice job of making how animals work an enticing subject.
Choice - M. J. O'Donnell
This wonderful book is a joy to read and will be of interest to both engineers and biologists...[Denny and McFadzean] have built upon their training in both engineering and physics to produce a superbly written work; the explanations of engineering principles at the heart of animal design are entertaining, intuitive, insightful, and concise.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674048546
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/16/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 794,233
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Denny is a retired aerospace engineer and the author of Froth: The Science of Beer.

Alan McFadzean is an independent consultant.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part 1 Structure and Movement

1 Go with the Flow 7

2 Structural Engineering: The Bare Bones 35

3 A Moving Experience 58

4 A Mind of Its Own 81

5 Built for Life 106

6 Simple Complexity: Emergent Behavior 130

Part 2 Remote Sensing

7 A Chemical Universe 155

8 Sound Ideas 178

9 Animal Sonar 203

10 Seeing the Light 236

11 There and Back Again: Animal Navigation 263

12 Talk to the Animals 289

Epilogue 313

Notes 317

Further Reading 347

References 351

Acknowledgments 371

Index 373

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)