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


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

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    Available in PDF Format | Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People.pdf | English
    Steven Vogel(Author) Kathryn K. Davis(Illustrator)
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. Steven Vogel teaches at Duke University.

"Vogel's latest success informs and delights.""Fascinating.... [Vogel's] interests seemingly know no bounds, and he takes the readers along with him on a complex, absorbing journey of exploration notable for its unexpected twists and turns.""A book that should be enjoyed and understood by intelligent non-scientists as much as by scientists ... entertaining and illuminating."

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Read online or download a free book: Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People

Review Text

  • By Matthew Walker on 13 September 2014

    This is a wonderful book for people that have an interest in Biomechanics. Vogel lays out the basic theories without equations or complex language. All of the terms used are carefully explained so that a grasp of the subject is obtained quickly and with little effort. The book covers a wide range of interests within the natural and human-made world, with direct comparisons between the two. Vogel uses elegant figures and personal anecdotes, which enliven the text. I would recommend this to people that have a general interest, but it is also suitable for those with an engineering background or those (like myself) just embarking on a research career in Biomechanics. There is also a comprehensive selection of notes, some that merely add additional detail, whilst other give references for those readers who wish to explore the field further. This book definitely provides a stepping stone to Vogel's more complex, academic books on the subject of biomechanics (such as Life in Moving Fluids) but is pitched at a level that would allow such a transition to more technical works to occur, without making the text boring or difficult to follow.

  • By DV on 20 December 2016

    Although not at all mathematical the book should be an essential read for any scientist. (I am Physics) it explains the concepts of scaling lucidly, and debunks so many of the concepts that Nature always gets it right. Nature's problems are quite different from ours. Just one of so many examples: , it is true that a waterlily had corrugated leaves, and it may have inspired Paxton over the roof of the Great Exhibition, but its structural requirements are quite different, having effectively no weight in the water, but a very definite requirement to float.

  • By Scottish Banana on 26 June 2016

    Bought as a gift, recipient was very happy with it.

  • By Kathleen Fryer on 5 December 2014

    This needs patience in reading it and is a book to be "delved" into. It contains a great deal of information and is worth buying.

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