Review Of "The Simple Science Of Flight: From Insects To Jumbo Jets" By H. Tennekes

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This romp through the history, physics, mathematics, economics, and natural history of flight will entertain the mathematically inclined, especially engineers, and disappoint avian and insect biologists. In this revised edition (1st ed., 1996), Tennekes (emer., meteorology, Royal Netherlands Meteoroligical Institute; emer., aerospace engineering, Penn State), continues his off-the-cuff application of simplified aerodynamics to all manner of flying objects from gnats to 747s. The strongest sections are those on the economics and history of aircraft design. The weakest are the efforts to apply formulae derived from aircraft to animals. The lack of data for insects, birds, and especially bats, results in a superficial and at times misleading interpretation of animal flight. Readers must be comfortable with mathematical modeling, equations, and graphing at the college level, but the writing is engaging and enlivened by personal anecdotes. There are no references for the many arresting statements, some of which are inaccurate. Instead, this volume may be useful in stimulating young scientists to think of how they might apply mathematics to their problems in an informal way. The many decorative line drawings are rarely used to illustrate the text. Includes a two-page list of selected readings and a short index. Summing Up: Optional. Upper-division undergraduates through researchers and faculty.


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