Engineering Animals: How Life Works - download pdf or read online

By Mark Denny, Alan McFadzean

ISBN-10: 0674048547

ISBN-13: 9780674048546

The alarm calls of birds cause them to tricky for predators to find, whereas the howl of wolves and the croak of bullfrogs are designed to hold throughout lengthy distances. From an engineer’s point of view, how do such really good diversifications between residing issues particularly paintings? and the way does physics constrain evolution, channeling it particularly directions?

Writing with wit and a richly expert feel of ask yourself, Mark Denny and Alan McFadzean supply knowledgeable examine animals as works of engineering, every one exquisitely tailored to a selected demeanour of survival, even if that implies spinning webs or flying throughout continents or searching within the dark—or writing books. this actual e-book, containing greater than 100 illustrations, conveys in actual fact, for engineers and nonengineers alike, the actual ideas underlying animal constitution and behavior.

Pigeons, for instance—when understood as marvels of engineering—are flying distant sensors: they've got wideband acoustical receivers, hi-res optics, magnetic sensing, and celestial navigation. Albatrosses deplete little strength whereas touring throughout colossal southern oceans, by way of exploiting a strategy identified to glider pilots as dynamic hovering. between bugs, one species of fly can find the resource of a legitimate accurately, although the fly itself is way smaller than the wavelength of the sound it hears. And that big-brained, upright nice Ape? Evolution has built us to determine a major truth in regards to the wildlife: that there's extra to existence than engineering, yet no existence in any respect with out it.

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Extra info for Engineering Animals: How Life Works

Sample text

3 The same engineering principles apply to machines that move. An airplane is bilaterally symmetrical with sensory instruments at the front; this concept is so basic that it goes back a century, to the beginning of manned flight (after a brief phase of lighter-than-air axially symmetric balloons). Animal bilateral symmetry goes back further: half a billion years to the Cambrian period, during which the structural diversity of animal body plans exploded. From bilateral symmetry, it is a small step to segmentation—another very successful evolutionary innovation.

The shape of bones (represented by the I parameter in Euler’s formula) is of greatest interest to us here. We have seen that the other parameters are all constrained. The question of interest is this: what shape should a bone be? Assume that the weight of the bone is predetermined—nature has allocated a certain amount of material to each bone. How should this material be shaped to provide greatest strength? This is truly a question of engineering and not function. The function of a bone determines the type of forces that act on it, the magnitude of those forces, and also the bone length and attachment method, but the best shape for that bone is largely an engineering problem.

The complex design of a skeleton is, consequently, largely a matter of engineering, and so we can reasonably apply our knowledge of mechanical engineering to generate insight into the construction of skeletons. We need not delve into the extensive mathematics of stress analysis to convey this insight. Let us quote just one formula, however, to illustrate how engineers describe mechanical stresses and how such a formula can relate to skeleton biomechanics. It will serve to tell us which aspects of skeletal design we engineers are free to play with and which are fixed by reasons other than stress analysis.

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Engineering Animals: How Life Works by Mark Denny, Alan McFadzean

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