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Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size And Scale Of Living Things Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Length: 303 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Due to its large file size, this book may take longer to download

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 44928 KB
  • Print Length: 303 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1559633042
  • Publisher: Island Press; 1 edition (19 Mar. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00C6F9DE6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,659,686 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
McGowan has put together a nice book about basic limitations that physics sets on animal size, e.g. how insect respiratory system limits insect size, or how big a bird can fly, or how body shape, swimming speed and Reynolds numbers compare with plankton and whales. Even though the subtitle claims that the book is about "living things", there is nothing about plants, which is a pity because e.g. trees are extreme in size. McGowan's writing is lucid and the level is good for reading: there are a couple of equations and about hundred simple charts and figures (B&W, nothing fancy) which give good extra information to the text. You might also want to check Knut Schmidt-Nielsen's book "Scaling: Why Is Anaimal Size So Important".
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book may appear to be a bit outdated judging from the year of publish, but I assure you most information in the book is still valid. McGowan is a brilliant scientist and writer. Lots of knowledge in the book, decorated with lots of humor. I have read several of his books, and absolutely admire his ability to display intricacy in a neat manner.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x993ca7c8) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x992bbf24) out of 5 stars Physics of biology: limits of animal size and speed. 19 Aug. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
McGowan has put together a nice book about basic limitations that physics sets on animal size, e.g. how insect respiratory system limits insect size, or how big a bird can fly, or how body shape, swimming speed and Reynolds numbers compare with plankton and whales. Even though the subtitle claims that the book is about "living things", there is nothing about plants, which is a pity because e.g. trees are extreme in size. McGowan's writing is lucid and the level is good for reading: there are a couple of equations and about hundred simple charts and figures (B&W, nothing fancy) which give good extra information to the text. You might also want to check Knut Schmidt-Nielsen's book "Scaling: Why Is Anaimal Size So Important".
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x996611e0) out of 5 stars Interesting Subject; Dull Book 15 April 2000
By Steve Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book almost repays the drudgery of reading it. It should be a case-study in poor editing. Apparently, no one ever quite decided who the audience was, and so it falls between any: though aimed at the general reader it is in essence a summary of technical literature - complete with maths, graphs, equations (more than a couple), and citations of authority in quasi-academic style. The text is at least one or two drafts from being finished; there are inadvertent repetitions, important points blurred or glossed over, paragraphs broken badly, and several discussions (including an entire chapter) that are off-topic and mostly pointless. McGowan's personal stories and asides are not well-integrated, as if an afterthought tacked on simply to soften his rather dry style. The illustrations are small, the photographs few and not directly relevant to the text.
McGowan seems to know what he is writing about; he needs an editor firmer and more adept and a publisher willing to put more money into the production.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a5924b0) out of 5 stars Unlimited wonders of Life 16 Mar. 2001
By Pacelli Torres - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An excellent exploration of the mysteries of living things.
We are surrounded by wonders. From the tiny phytoplankton with 7.5 micrometers in size, to the giant brachiosaurus weighing 78 tons, life manages to find its way, showing us facts that are just almost impossible to believe.
This is one of those books you can trust because is written for somebody who knows what he is writing about. Explores quite interesting subjects ranging from the movement of the wings doves and bats, to the heart rate of mice, and the naps of elephants. There are also very good illustrations in it.
Definitely, a very nice and productive reading for everybody, especially for those Lovers of Nature.
We need a wide mind to understand the wide wonders of Life.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99498dd4) out of 5 stars A rare gem. 9 Sept. 2013
By Joan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Diatoms to Dinosaurs is a delightful book about the adaption of animals (mostly) of widely varying size, from diatoms to dinosaurs, to the laws of physics that they must contend with. Chapters focus on the absolute and relative strength of large and small animals, how lifespan may be related to size and other features, the relationship between animal size and brain size, between the total body size and the size of a body part, and between metabolism and size. McGowan relates mechanisms of locomotion to the relative magnitude of the viscous and inertial forces that the animal must contend with, as quantified by the Reynolds number. Five out of eleven chapters, a large portion of the book, discuss locomotion in water and through air for animals operating at very high and very low Reynolds numbers, and everything in between.

Aerospace, chemical, and mechanical engineers would likely find this book delightful, as it makes many analogies between material within these fields and animal adaptations. The general reader would find much to gain in terms of understanding adaptive mechanisms within biology, animal locomotion, and the physics of locomotion. As a bonus, McGowan imparts many excellent stories about animals with strange behaviours.

There were no major flaws in this book. My biggest disappointment was discovering that diatoms were plants, not animals. However, pennate diatoms are mobile, so they count as a moving living thing. The style of the book is conversational, but it is conversational with an intelligent and precise professional in biology. Anecdotes are peppered throughout the book. The author gives his informed opinion on some items that are not yet completely settled within the field, and he does an excellent job of presenting counter views. Many illustrations embellish and clarify ideas within the book. The breadth and depth of the discussion make for an invigorating read.

Perhaps most importantly, it is clear from the writing that McGowan loves his field. If you listen to him, you'll get to find out why.
HASH(0x9a59254c) out of 5 stars Intriguing. 21 Jun. 2002
By Dr. Leslie Dean Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The book is about muscles and skeletons, hearts, fluids and brains. Quite a large chunk of the book is about flight. I found the most captivating chapter was "Tiffany wings and kite strings". It is all about tiny fliers: microfilm model airplanes and microscopic flying insects. It reveals that the mechanism that insects use to fly is different to birds. After reading this, you may think twice about squishing the next harmless little insect that flies right by you. The section on drag was surprisingly very interesting.
Although it introduces familiar animals, it goes into enough detail to provide substantially new and rewarding information about these creatures, which you almost certainly won't be aware of. There are loads of great diagrams, which really make this book very enjoyable to read. The book is straightforward and I relished reading it.
A very very similar book is called "Cats' Paws and Catapults". It also contains many examples of design, although it is from an engineering perspective, and the focus is on comparing the design of evolution with that of technological invention. I think Diatoms to Dinosaurs is a much more interesting read - it is predominantly concerned with nature, not with technology. This book is simply more profound, but both books are very good.
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