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Cats' Paws and Catapults:
"Life is what biology's all 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," begins biomechanics expert Steven Vogel in the preface to Cats' Paws and Catapults. Vogel examines the "mechanical worlds of nature and people" in such chapters as "The Stiff and the Soft" and "The Matter of Magnitude." Lots of line-drawing illustrations help readers understand the examples used to answer questions of animal and machine efficiency, design and repair. Vogel clearly loves the puzzles of biology--why, for instance, do daffodil stems bend at only one precise spot? This book is filled with intriguing answers to such hidden questions, and curious readers will eagerly dive into Vogel's investigations of whether nature or human design is superior and why the two technologies have diverged so much. --Therese Littleton [via]