Its not very common for someone to think of the intersection of physics and biology: usually chemistry intermediates those two fields. But it is its own entire subject, people get pHDs studying it all the time.
Biomechanics is a field that focuses on understanding the mechanics and function of organisms, including humans and animals. It involves the study of the structure and motion of living organisms, as well as the forces and stresses that are applied to them. Biomechanics has broad applications in fields such as medicine, sports science, and robotics, and provides valuable insights into how organisms move and function.
Mechanics and Function of a Skeleton
The skeleton is a key component of an organism’s biomechanics, as it provides support and structure for the body. The skeleton is made up of bones, which are connected by joints and muscles. The joints allow for movement, while the muscles provide the force to move the bones.
The structure of the skeleton varies between different organisms, depending on their evolutionary history and ecological niche. For example, birds have lightweight, hollow bones that allow for flight, while mammals have dense, solid bones that provide strength and durability.
In addition to providing support and structure, the skeleton also plays a role in protecting internal organs. The ribcage, for example, protects the heart and lungs, while the skull protects the brain.
Limits of Mechanical Forces
Organisms are subject to a wide range of mechanical forces, including compression, tension, shear, and torsion. These forces can have both positive and negative effects on the body, depending on the context. For example, physical activity can stimulate bone growth and increase bone density, while excessive mechanical stress can lead to injury.
There are limits to what kind of mechanical forces can be applied to organisms in different contexts. For example, bone is strong in compression, but relatively weak in tension. This means that bones are more likely to fracture when subjected to bending or torsion forces, rather than compression.
Similarly, different tissues in the body have different mechanical properties, which can affect their response to mechanical forces. For example, tendons and ligaments are elastic and can stretch to absorb mechanical energy, while bones and cartilage are stiffer and less flexible.
Powering Organisms and Movement
Organisms are powered by a variety of mechanisms, including chemical reactions, electrical impulses, and mechanical energy. In humans and animals, muscles are the primary source of mechanical energy, and are responsible for movement and locomotion.
Muscles work by contracting and relaxing, which causes movement in the attached bones and joints. The force generated by the muscle is determined by the number of muscle fibers that are activated, as well as the frequency and duration of the contractions.
The way that organisms move around also varies depending on their evolutionary history and ecological niche. For example, animals that live in water may have fins or flippers that allow them to swim, while animals that live on land may have legs or feet that allow them to walk or run.
Benefits of Biomechanics
This is what physical therapy is all about. Understanding the limits and extending them.
The study of biomechanics provides valuable insights into how organisms move and function, and has broad applications in fields such as medicine, sports science, and robotics.
In medicine, biomechanics is used to understand how the body responds to injury, disease, and treatment. For example, biomechanical models can be used to simulate joint replacement surgeries and predict how the patient will move after surgery.
In sports, biomechanics is used to optimize athletic performance and prevent injury. Biomechanical analysis can help athletes improve their technique and identify areas of weakness or imbalance that may lead to injury.
In robotics, biomechanics is used to design robots that can move and interact with the environment in a way that is similar to living organisms. By studying the mechanics and function of organisms, engineers can develop robots that are more efficient, adaptable, and robust.
I have a particular interest in biomechanics from an armature development perspective as an Animator. but that is neither here nor there.