Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule: Drawing Blueprints from Nature

Overview

In The Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule, Delta Willis explores the relationship between natural forms and human engineering and the beauty, economy, and efficiency in the way birds fly, fish swim, and trees grow. She then applies this knowledge to design, and how humans can adapt such natural blueprints for everything from ultra-light aircraft to massive skyscrapers.

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Overview

In The Sand Dollar and the Slide Rule, Delta Willis explores the relationship between natural forms and human engineering and the beauty, economy, and efficiency in the way birds fly, fish swim, and trees grow. She then applies this knowledge to design, and how humans can adapt such natural blueprints for everything from ultra-light aircraft to massive skyscrapers.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Willis is an idiosyncratic and interesting writer reminiscent of Diane Ackerman; she follows her own curiosities about the natural world, taking readers along on a delightful trip. As with her The Hominid Gang (LJ 9/1/89), there is much gentle science in this account of how successful engineering and research so often mirror the natural world, but it is presented in a highly nonsystematic and occasionally highly oblique way. Willis discusses architecture, aerospace design, fossils, motion pictures-a cornucopia of themes gathered in a thought-provoking container and knitted together with warm and friendly prose. A fascinating and uncategorizable book that will delight readers who like being aware of the natural world and its human-made permutations.-Mark L. Shelton, Worcester, Mass.
Booknews
A German physicist studies trees to refine car parts; architects examine shells and flowers to inspire efficient construction; the Wright brothers learn designs for flight from the turkey vulture: these are among the examples in this narrative of the relationship between natural forms and human design. Insights span history from the relationship between Greek temples and human anatomy to the way the faces of Miss Universe contestants conform to the mathematical model of the Golden Mean. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Gilbert Taylor
An associational exploration of how biological forms inspire human architecture, this work ambles among the geometric connections between pterodactyls and birds and planes, trees and buildings, and beehives and their mathematical expressions. Willis navigates through dozens of such connections with ease, as she cut her teeth as a science journalist and isn't bashful about imparting an endearing sense of wonder. Her hero in the field is D'Arcy Thompson, a pioneer acknowledged by biology experts such as Peter Medawar and Stephen Jay Gould. Thompson, an amateur scientist, who wrote the influential book "On Growth and Form" in 1917, which is still in print, apparently animates Willis as well; she repeatedly cites the Scottsman's strong views on the purposes and functions of shapes, be they shells, fishes, or leaves. Buckminster Fuller, too, felt the weight of Thompson's opinions even as he designed a revolutionary method of weight distribution--the geodesic dome--which Willis devotes an entire chapter to. With her abundant enthusiasm, this author is bound to captivate those interested in biology on the visible, macro scale, and under Willis' prompting, they will easily grasp patterns that have previously escaped them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201632750
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 1/1/1995
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.93 (d)

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