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Comparative Biomechanics [Kindle Edition]

Steven Vogel
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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  • Print ISBN-10: 0691112975
  • Print ISBN-13: 978-0691112978
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Book Description

Why do you shift from walking to running at a particular speed? How can we predict transition speeds for animals of different sizes? Why must the flexible elastic of arterial walls behave differently than a rubber tube or balloon? How do leaves manage to expose a broad expanse of surface while suffering only a small fraction of the drag of flags in high winds?

The field of biomechanics--how living things move and work--hasn't seen a new general textbook in more than two decades. Here a leading investigator and teacher lays out the key concepts of biomechanics using examples drawn from throughout the plant and animal kingdoms. Up-to-date and comprehensive, this is also the only book to give thorough coverage to both major subfields of biomechanics: fluid and solid mechanics.

Steven Vogel explains how biomechanics makes use of models and methods drawn from physics and mechanical engineering to investigate a wide range of general questions--from how animals swim and fly and the modes of terrestrial locomotion to the way organisms respond to wind and water currents and the operation of circulatory and suspension-feeding systems. He looks also at the relationships between the properties of biological materials--spider silk, jellyfish jelly, muscle, and more--and their various structural and functional roles.

While written primarily for biology majors and graduate students in biology, this text will be useful for physical scientists and engineers seeking a sense of the state of the art of biomechanics and a guide to its rather scattered literature. For a still wider audience, it establishes the basic biological context for such applied areas as ergonomics, orthopedics, mechanical prosthetics, kinesiology, sports medicine, and biomimetics.

Editorial Reviews


One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2004

"Personal anecdotes connect the material to the happenings of everyday life, creating a book that will be well received and remembered by students. Nearly every example is accessible to common experience and easy to comprehend. . . . Excellent, clean line diagrams illustrate nearly every important concept. Each chapter begins with an eclectic and often amusing quotation drawn or paraphrased from the experiences of the author. This typifies the familiar style brought forward in this important and timely work, which will surely become the book of choice for courses in comparative biomechanics."--Choice

"A delightful and comprehensive textbook that is perfect for undergraduates and those of us who need a refresher. . . . Throughout the book, Vogel introduces the formulae and principles that matter in a cleat manner, and illustrates them with a dizzying array of biological and physical examples. . . . [T]his book is tremendous fun to read. Vogel writes with an effervescent sense of delight in his subject. The text is laced with wit and humor, and sprinkled with eclectic examples of nature's many marvels. None of the fun, however, diminishes the clarity."--Daniel E. Lieberman, Nature

"I tried skim-reading Steven Vogel's Comparative Biomechanics . . . but was compromised: the volume has so many little gems scattered throughout that my eye got caught by the glitter and couldn't escape. In earlier books, Vogel introduced biomechanics piecemeal. Now he has written an integrated textbook on the subject."--Julian F. V. Vincent, Science

"[Vogel] is that rare animal, a biologist who is at once fluent in mathematics, conversant with physics and physical chemistry, and an accomplished practical engineer. More than that, the quality of Vogel's writing allows him to convey complex ideas clearly and make them so accessible that his books are hard to put down."--H.C. Bennet-Clark, Bioscience

"Science books are generally read for three reasons: it is assigned, it provides an introduction to an unfamiliar field, or because it is a truly enjoyable read. Great science books meet all three. . . . With Comparative Biomechanics, Vogel has now produced a book that meets all three criteria of a great science book."--Scott Turner, Quarterly Review of Biology

From the Inside Flap

"Authoritative, beautifully written, witty, and accessible, this book is the first general treatment of comparative biomechanics for undergraduate students in almost twenty years."--R. McNeill Alexander, Fellow of the Royal Society, University of Leeds

"It is always a pleasure to read a book by Steven Vogel. In Comparative Biomechanics, he presents a wealth of new fun facts and quirky insights while providing the first concise single-volume overview of the entire breadth of biomechanics. Up until now, anyone teaching a general course had to rely on at least two texts. This book represents an immense job by an author who is conversant with the whole field and an expert hand in cutting to the core of its principles."--Mark Denny, Stanford University

Product Details

  • File Size: 7113 KB
  • Print Length: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (September 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005OQGYM8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,220,670 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best introductory physics textbook ever June 24, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book would be a fantastic text for an introductory physics class, eg, mechanics classes aimed at future doctors. It begins with the "simple" problem of walking, which can be understood as an oscillation, with the frequency tuned to the length of your legs. From there, the book proceeds to dimensional analysis, and treats the biomechanical universe as a set of simple tubes, surfaces, flows, beams, and levers, all amenable to simple calculation and estimation. This book contains more real, relevant physics than any introductory physics text (with the possible exception of the Feynman lectures, which are totally unsuited for first-year students). It is the best physics textbook we know. (Review co-written by Dr Sanjoy Mahajan, Department of Physics, University of Cambridge).
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Offer from the author... November 1, 2003
An accumulation of instructional materials to accompany the book will be sent as an e-mail attachment to anyone who contacts me at tell me a little about who you are. The files (Word and PDF) are freely usable for anything except remunerative republication. If you are using the book in a course and wish to limit local dissemination (I supply answers to the problem sets), tell me and I'll do my best to comply.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot of interesting material September 9, 2007
I had read one of the author's previous books, 'Life in moving fluids', several years ago as part of a biomechanics course. I liked it, so when I saw this book I had high expectations. After reading it, I was not disappointed.

There is a very nice mix of developing basic concepts (e.g. buoyancy or fluid flow) and how living organisms use these in their daily lives (e.g. a fish's swim bladder or a bird's wing).

These general arguments are obviously important for addressing a great number of questions. From paleobiology, could pterosaurs fly or just glide? How fast could a T-Rex run? Why are there so few surface swimming animals? Some other interesting facts he presented were: how spiders use hydraulic force to extend their legs, why gliders tend to have long thin wings, how cell metabolism rate varies with organism size (I was aware of the mouse-elephant curve, but was quite surprised to hear this), hearts have self-triggering muscles and that some fish have their eyes located in a position such that the pressure does not vary with swimming speed (important so that the focal point does not change).

Some of the physics presented was interesting even outside of its use in biology. In my experience fluid dynamics is not covered much in physics, mainly just Bernoulli's equations and Reynolds number. I think most physicists would improve their understanding and intuition of fluid dynamics by reading this book. The materials topics, like crack propagation, were also interesting.

The book covers the basics of Newtonian mechanics (and things like units and dimensional analysis) used throughout the book. I skipped these chapters so I cannot comment on whether they provided an adequate background for the remainder of the book.

Needless to say, I liked this book a lot. I liked both coverage of the general principles and the specific cases used to illustrate them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Introductory Text March 10, 2010
I am a student in mechanical engineering and am looking to begin research in biomechanics. I have used this book as a first step in my literature review and it has proven to be the most helpful in getting me started.

Compared to the texts that I am used to (in engineering...) Vogel actually has a delightful writing style that is engaging and thorough. Yes, it's true that some sections seem simple and unnecessary, but I think that is going to be the case for anyone, based on their background. He provides a thorough collection of biomechanical information and presents it in a clear way that invites people like me, who aren't already in the field, to explore and learn more about it. If there is something that you feel that he didn't quite go into depth with, then his excellent references pick up the "slack."

Overall, this book is a delight. :)
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