Cover: Living at Micro Scale: The Unexpected Physics of Being Small, from Harvard University PressCover: Living at Micro Scale in PAPERBACK

Living at Micro Scale

The Unexpected Physics of Being Small

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Product Details


$30.00 • £24.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674060210

Publication Date: 03/04/2011


448 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

97 line illustrations, 23 tables, 2 boxes


David Dusenbery’s book Living at Micro Scale does an excellent job of explaining the physics that is relevant at this scale and, later in the book, how this physics affects the behavior of microorganisms...The book will be accessible and useful to a wide audience of people interested in biology, physics or engineering. And the provocative questions presented are sure to be the subject of intense activity in the research community for years to come.—Thomas R. Powers, American Scientist

The book draws on 20 years of Dusenbery’s own research, and he doesn’t compromise on the science; informed readers will find all the equations they could need. But it is rarely dry or uninteresting, and benefits from a liberal scattering of anecdotes going back 2500 years. My favorite is the idea that Galileo fell foul of the church because of his atomist view of matter.—Colin Barras, New Scientist

Of course biologists know that physical law constrains biological design. But the subtlety, the pervasiveness, the number and interrelationships of relevant factors-- these come as a splendid revelation in David Dusenbery’s Living at Micro Scale. One is left wondering how we biologists could have managed to ignore them, and left grateful to Dusenbery for this enlightening account.—Steven Vogel, Duke University, author of Comparative Biomechanics: Life’s Physical World

I have long used Edward M. Purcell’s famous essay to draw my students to the fascinating blend of biology, mathematics, and physics that deals with low Reynolds numbers. Now David Dusenbery’s Living at Micro Scale provides me with a wealth of new material that combines simple mathematics, rigorous physics, and interesting microbiology. It will be indispensable to my teaching. Dusenbery uses evocative illustrations, and many lucid derivations and useful tables that will greatly increase the variety of examples that I can raise with undergraduates regarding microbe size, shape, propulsion, sensory ecology and encounter. The volume is sure to become a well-worn reference volume on my shelf, and one that will fuel many graduate seminars.—Peter A. Jumars, Darling Marine Center, University of Maine

Using his deep knowledge of the principles of both physics and biology, Dusenbery provides novel insights into why biological systems are organized as they are. He has the uncanny ability to synthesize information that is common knowledge in physics, make a few simple calculations, and explain processes that have long puzzled biologists. Dusenbery shows how the tools of the physicist-- generalization and approximation-- and physics’ rich repertoire of models can inform and advance biology. Biologists would do well to listen.—Terry Snell, Professor of Biology, Georgia Tech

Awards & Accolades

  • 2010 Georgia Author of the Year Award, Specialty Book Category, Georgia Writers Association
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