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Books - Scientific research papers
Here are descriptions of my three published books and copies of a few of my research papers.
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Living at MicroScale outlines the basic physics that controls the behavior of microorganisms. It is important because many physical properties are very different at this size scale than at the familiar human scale. In size, bacteria are to humans as humans are to the earth. Differences can be dramatic; although we use flat paddles to propel ourselves, bacteria use long cylinders because they are more efficient at their size scale. The results are of interest to engineers designing micro robots as well as to biologists. The book is available at Harvard University Press: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674060210 .
Life at Small Scale is a popular science book in the Scientific American Library series with many beautiful color pictures. It has been remaindered by the publisher and is available for a few dollars. This book describes the world of microorganism, with an emphasis on behaviors. The cover displays an image of various stages of slime mold cells aggregating into a "slug" that migrates to the surface (using temperature gradients as a guide) and forming a fruiting body that can release spores into the wind for more effective dispersal.
Sensory Ecology has long been out of print, but still commands a high price on the used market. This book describes the basic physics that controls the behavior of organisms of all types, from bacteria to whales and plants. For example, is it physically possible for whales to communicate across an ocean by sound? The cover includes a picture of a moth responding to hearing the search cries of a bat by plummeting to the ground; here sounds dominate the behavior of both hunter and prey.
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Information Is Where You Find It. Biol.Bull. 1996: a paper summarizing the surprising finding than small soil organisms can use temperature to find the surface or a particular depth.
Minimum size limit for useful locomotion by free-swimming microbes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 1997: a paper summarizing how physics determines a minimum size below which a free-swimming organism or submarine robot would have no use for self-propulsion.
Fitness Landscapes for Effects of Shape on Chemotaxis and Other Behaviors of Bacteria. J. Bacteriology 1998: a paper summarizing data on 218 types of free-floating or free-swimming bacteria and using physics to explain the observation that motile bacteria are more likely to be elongated than others—more because it allows them to sense gradients than for swimming efficiency.
Selection for High Gamete Encounter Rates Explains the Success of Male and Female Mating Types. J. Theoretical Biology 2000: a paper summarizing a physical argument for why so many organisms reproduce using eggs and sperm—they can get together more efficiently than gametes of the same size.
Ecological Models Explaining the Success of Distinctive Sperm and Eggs (Oogamy). J. Theoretical Biology 2002: a paper using a few simplifying assumptions to extract and compare the essential features of 8 different ecological hypotheses used to explain the success of gametes of the egg-and-sperm type. The comparisons reveal that the critical need is to identify a selective advantage for large, immobile gametes (eggs). And this need is satisfied by the ability of a large egg to release enough pheromone to increase its target size for the sperm.
A more complete list of research papers is available at PubMed and Google Scholar .
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Last revised 10 April 2014.
E-mail me: SeekingIllumination@hotmail.com