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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-09-02 07:20
Cats’ Paws and Catapults by Steven Vogel
Cats’ Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People - Kathryn K. Davis,Steven Vogel

TITLE: Cats’ Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People


AUTHOR: Steven Vogel




FORMAT: Paperback


ISBN-13:  9780393319903



"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. "




This is an interesting and informative, scholarly, comparative overview of the difference between the way nature and humans engineer and manufacture things, the differences in the substances each uses to make those things, and the possibilities of why man and nature make things differently. Vogel has a clear, easy to understand writing style and provides many examples and diagrams to illustrate a point.

Other books:
~How to Walk on Water and Climb Up Walls: Animal Movement and the Robots of the Future by David L. Hu
~The Gecko’s Foot: How Scientists are Taking a Leaf from Nature's Book by Peter Forbes

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review 2019-05-27 04:24
The Graphene Revolution by Brian Clegg
The Graphene Revolution: The weird science of the ultra-thin (Hot Science) - Brian Clegg

TITLE:  The Graphene Revolution: The Weird Science of the Ultra-thin


AUTHOR:  Brian Clegg




FORMAT:  ebook


ISBN-13:  9781785783760



"In 2003, Russian physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov found a way to produce graphene – the thinnest substance in the world – by using sticky tape to separate an atom-thick layer from a block of graphite.

Their efforts would win the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics, and now the applications of graphene and other ‘two-dimensional’ substances form a worldwide industry.

Graphene is far stronger than steel, a far better conductor than any metal, and able to act as a molecular sieve to purify water. Electronic components made from graphene are a fraction of the size of silicon microchips and can be both flexible and transparent, making it possible to build electronics into clothing, produce solar cells to fit any surface, or even create invisible temporary tattoos that monitor your health.

Ultra-thin materials give us the next big step forward since the transistor revolutionised electronics. Get ready for the graphene revolution.




Clegg has written a rather short, but understandable, book about graphene and other ultra-thin materials, that covers everything from the "discovery" of graphene using sticky tape, to the interactions and bonds between atoms (i.e. the essence of matter), quantum physics, the history of quantum physics and atomic structure, other ultra-thin materials such as boron nitride and molybdenum disulfide, to the implications and potential uses of these ultra-thin materials.  The scientific explanations were alright, though quantum physics still smacks like "Star Trek physics".  I did find the rather extensive biographies of Geim and Novoselov, and mentions of everyone even vaguely related to atomic structure elucidations and quantum physics to be a bit tedious.  A nicely written book about an interesting subject.  Illustrations would have been nice though.


What is Graphene? - Nanowerk.com


Engineer Brings New Twist to Sodium-Ion Battery Technology with Discovery of Flexible Molybdenum Disulfide Electrodes

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review 2018-03-26 10:23
GRAPHENE by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World - Joseph E. Meany,Les Johnson

TITLE:  Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World


AUTHOR:  Les Johnson  & Joseph E. Meany 




FORMAT:  Paperback


ISBN-13:  9781633883253




Graphene by Johnson and Meany provides an extensive, and interesting, overview of a potential new material that could revolutionise daily life. This substance is graphene: a flat, two-dimensional, carbon-based molecule with a single sheet measuring only one atom thick.

This book is divided into sections that cover the history of graphene discovery/ development; its unique physical and electrical properties; the problems in large-scale manufacture of the substance for commerical use; its variety of potential uses that would transform everyday life; and the unknown potential health risks of graphene. The potential uses of graphene include enhancing and increasing the efficiency of solar panels, batteries, electrical conduction, computers, medical equipment and other electronic items; additions to paint and concrete to provide additional strength and waterproofing; its uses in "smart" clothing etc.

This book is particularly dense in science, with a bit of history, economics and humour thrown in. The science however is nothing more complicated than what one would come across in a highschool science class i.e. electrons and atoms are mentioned. The book is written in an accessible style that was a joy to read.


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