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Paperback, eBook
120 illustration
235 x 185 mm
5 August 2014
Handspring Publishing

£29.95 GBP / $42.00 USD

Osteopathy, Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, Massage Therapy, Sport and Fitness

Biotensegrity – The Structural Basis of Life

£29.95 GBP / $42.00 USD Free delivery in the UK and USA

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Graham SCARR

Graham Scarr is a chartered biologist and osteopath with a particular interest in structural mechanics.

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The concept of tensegrity as a structural design principle has been around since the middle of the twentieth century and is currently seeing a huge increase in interest.

From early forays into a new form of sculpture it is now incorporated into architecture and the engineering of deployable structures in space, and is also attracting the attention of biologists, clinicians and others interested in functional anatomy and movement.

Tensegrity models emulate biology in ways that were inconceivable in the past, and the principles underlying their construction provide a more thorough assessment of biological mechanics at every size scale.

This book is a response to the frequently asked question, “what is (bio)tensegrity”, and will inspire the reader to take a deeper look at biological structure and find their own ways of applying it.

It is a perspective that recognises that all natural forms are the result of interactions between natural physical forces and the fundamental laws that regulate them, and that an appreciation of these simple precepts leads to a better understanding of the human body as a functionally integrated and hierarchical unit.

‘Biotensegrity – the structural basis of life’ presents a detailed and overall picture of tensegrity/biotensegrity and brings everything together for the first time, from its discovery and basic geometry to its significance to functional anatomy and biomechanical theory, and is a much needed reference; it is part of the basic science that underpins clinical reasoning.

Chapter 1 • Tensegrity


What is it?

The origin of tensegrity

The exhibition

Karl Ioganson

The architects

David Emmerich

Buckminster Fuller

The sculptor

Kenneth Snelson

The beginning of an idea

Building the tradition

A new perception

The geodesic dome

The functional sphere

The bicycle wheel

A combined effort

Chapter 2 • Simple geometry in complex organisms

A new approach to geometry: one that nature already ‘knows’ about

The rules of physics

Triangulating a hexagon

Close-packing the shapes

The Platonic polyhedra

A dynamic structural system

The tetrahedron

The octahedron

The cube

The isotropic vector matrix and vector equilibrium

The icosahedron

The dodecahedron

The geometry of living structure

The jitterbug

Chapter 3 • The balance of unseen forces

The tensegrity model



The T6-sphere and tensegrity-icosahedron

The simple complexity of tensegrity

Structure and energy

Structural hierarchies

A pattern for all the others


Chapter 4 • The problem with mechanics

The laws of classical mechanics

Stress and strain

Scaling up in size

The consequences

A glimmer of hope

The important bits are missing!

A different sort of geometry


The broken lever

A changing paradigm


The kinematic chain

Closed-chain kinematics

Tensegrity hierarchies

The problem solved!

Chapter 5 • The autonomous cell

The cytoskeleton

Regulating the cell

Shaping the balance

Linking the ‘inside’ with the ‘outside’

The development of tissues

The movement of cells

The development of complex patterns

The cellular integrator

Chapter 6 • The twist in the tale

The helix

The molecular helix

Complex hierarchies



The helical tube

Tubes within tubes within tubes…

The myofascial tube

The body wall

A more fundamental kind of geometry

Stirring the pot

Chapter 7 • The ease of motion

Replacing the old with the new

Dinosaurs and the Forth Bridge

Snelson’s tower

The vertebrate spine

The biotensegrity joint

The wheel

Floating sesamoids

A little bit of space

The knee

Sliding surfaces

A note of caution

A bit more detail

The elbow

Something rather peculiar is going on

A respectable function

A little resumé

Chapter 8 • The hard and the soft

The cranial vault

The geometric model

Straight into curves

Anatomical basics

Embryonic development

The integrated cranium

Cranial pathologies

The avian lung

Hierarchical anatomy

The tensegrity wheel model

The story so far

Chapter 9 • A closer look

Tension and compression

Attraction and repulsion

Pull and push

The possibilities are endless

Cables and struts

The lost strut

Simple evolving into complex

A search for the missing compression

It is all about perspective

Straight or curved

Reducing the stress

Spherical geometry

The nuances of anatomy

Chapter 10 • ‘Complex’ patterns in biology

The rhombic dodecahedron

The Fibonacci sequence and Golden Mean


Quasi-equivalence and the spherical viruses

Penrose tiling

The fractal

The connecting links


Higher dimensions

Hyperbolic geometry

What does it all mean?

Chapter 11 • Biotensegrity: a rational approach to biomechanics

The skeleton



Connective tissues

The fascia

The microvacuolar system

A new reality


Unravelling the old ideas

A misplaced wisdom

A global synergy

The simple complexity of motion

The dynamics of movement

The control of motion

Functional kinematics

A shift in balance


A change in perception

The biotensegrity model

A cautionary note

Basic science

Chapter 12 • Biotensegrity: the structural basis of life

First principles

The Platonic shapes and where they lead to

The helix

The icosahedron

Developmental evolution

The emergence of structure

The survival of the fittest

The biotensegrity model

The wheel

Multiple geometries

The ‘complex’ model and beyond

The functional human

The unseen core

Biotensegrity: the functional basis of life


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