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

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

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

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

Synopsis

"Our human technology has emerged from ten thousand years of design, trial, and error. Nature's mechanical designs, the function of plants and animals are billions of years older. Both "technologies" share the same physical environment - the same materials, atmosphere, and temperature range - and both are subject to the same gravitational pull. But they've turned out to be wildly dissimilar. Steven Vogel examines the many questions that arise from these differences. Cats' Paws and Catapults is about the ways living things work - and walk, run, jump, and fly - and how they grow. It introduces the reader to the field of biomechanics and explains how the nexus of physical law and historical accident determine the designs of both people and nature. It asks, in the end, how looking at nonhuman - natural - technology might enrich our understanding of what we do and have done." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Life is what biology's about. Technology is something else altogether.

Or so I believed before I got into a kind of biology that's about technology as well as life. More to the point, it—biomechanics—looks at the technology of life, at the mechanical world of nature. Sometimes that world resembles the mechanical world that we humans have created. But sometimes the two differ strikingly. This book compares those technologies. It's about the ordinary things and creatures around us; it intends, immodestly, to change the way you look at your surroundings—at least a little. It has some other missions as well.

I've come to realize that engineers are as curious about our world as we are about theirs. Some suspect that a look at organisms might help them create designs and fabricate devices. How could a biologist disagree? But shifting from one world to the other isn't a trivial matter, and the traveler needs a road map and a guidebook. This book tries to provide them by introducing biomechanics in a point-by-point comparison with the more familiar world of our own technology.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.