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06-25-1997, 01:26 AM


Mechanics of Plants, Animals and Their Environments:
Integrative Perspectives

January 11-16, 1998

Santa Barbara, California

The Engineering Foundation is sponsoring its first International Symposium
on Mechanics of Plants, Animals and Their Environments (MPATHE):
Integrative Perspectives to be held January 11-16, 1998 at the Radisson
Hotel in Santa Barbara, California. The Symposium is chaired by Joseph
Humphrey (Bucknell University, USA; see footnote "a" below) supported by
co-chairs Friedrich Barth (University of Vienna, Austria), Timothy Secomb
(University of Arizona, USA) and Julian Vincent (University of Reading,

The Symposium will bring together a highly interdisciplinary mix of
biologists, physical scientists (chemists, physicists and mathematicians)
and engineers to present and discuss fluid-, solid-, thermo-mechanics and
dynamics phenomena related to plants, animals and their environments. The
length scale range of interest spans single cells, to entire organisms, to
their host environments, implying length scale ratios exceeding 10E12 and
including the extremes of micro (molecular) and macro
(atmospheric/oceanographic) forces.

Such disparate phenomena as the breaking of a limb from a tree, the
lifting of a load by an ant, the sensing of vibrations by a spider, the
dispersion of seeds or chemical pollutants by the wind, the flight of
birds and insects, the swimming of fish, the transport of oxygen via blood
cells, the rising of sap in trees, the hot chemical discharge from the
bombardier beetle, the solar radiation interception by a butterfly's
wings, the dispersal and sensing of pheromone plumes in moths, the
locomotion of water striders on water surfaces, filter feeding in marine
animals, insect sound production, the mechanics of single cells and their
membranes and skeletons, the physico-chemical properties of arthropod
exoskeletons, the mechanics of blood flow through large blood vessels and
in capillaries, the optima of certain organismal forms in relation to
function . . . are all described by a common set of physical laws. This
provides a natural way to analyze a diverse collection of biological
phenomena that might otherwise appear totally unrelated; a way to find
underlying commonalities among them, not in the traditional biological
sense, but in terms of the physics that affect them in their environments.

Thus, an underlying objective of the Symposium is to identify integrative
commonalities in the fundamentals and applications of fluid-, solid-,
thermo-mechanics and dynamics among plants, animals and their
environments. The application of ideas from living organisms should not
be missed, and the analytical approach will reveal the more common, hence
more successful, mechanisms, materials and structures which can suggest
novel engineering solutions to current and future problems. This impinges
on "smart" technology, where many of the ideas have been presaged by

The Symposium organizers invite offers of oral and poster presentations.
Speakers will be chosen on the basis of an extended 2000-word abstract
submitted to one of the chairs listed above by 1 September 1997.

Participation is by application only, total enrolment being limited to 150.

a) At the University of Arizona until 15 August 1997.