cover image Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

Matin Durrani and Liz Kalaugher. Sigma, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4729-1409-5

Bridging physics and biology in an accessible, informative, and (mostly) humorous manner, science journalists Durrani and Kalaugher take readers on an eclectic tour of the natural world. In individual chapters focusing on the physics of heat, force, fluid dynamics, sound, electricity and magnetism, and light, they explain basic principles and describe how a range of animals make use of those principles, often in surprising ways, to increase their ability to survive and reproduce. The authors demonstrate why mosquitos aren’t killed when hit by raindrops weighing 50 times the mass of the insect, how bees manage to fly when simple equations suggest that they shouldn’t be able to generate enough lift to do so, and how loggerhead turtles use the Earth’s magnetic field to return to the beach upon which they hatched after swimming in the open ocean for five to 10 years. The examples are often fascinating, but Durrani and Kalaugher’s larger message about the need to integrate the sciences is far more important: “Dividing physicists and biologists—making them go to separate classes and learn different subjects—stifles progress.” Durrani and Kalaugher approach their captivating material in a lighthearted fashion, though the wordplay gets a bit stale by the end of the book. (Feb.)