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Challenge of Biomechanics

Konstantin Volokh's picture

The application of mechanics to biology
– biomechanics – bears great challenges due to the intricacy of living things.
Their dynamism, along with the complexity of their mechanical response (which
in itself involves complex chemical, electrical, and thermal phenomena) makes
it very difficult to correlate empirical data with theoretical models. This
difficulty elevates the importance of useful biomechanical theories compared to
other fields of engineering. Despite inherent imperfections of all theories, a
well formulated theory is crucial in any field of science because it is the
basis for interpreting observations. This is all-the-more vital, for instance,
when diagnosing symptoms, or planning treatment to a disease. The notion of
interpreting empirical data without theory is unscientific and unsound.

This paper attempts to fortify the
importance of biomechanics and invigorate research efforts for those engineers
and mechanicians who are not yet involved in the field. It is not aimed here,
however, to give an overview of biomechanics. Instead, three unsolved problems
are formulated to challenge the readers. At the micro-scale, the problem of the
structural organization and integrity of the living cell is presented. At the
meso-scale, the enigma of fingerprint formation is discussed. At the
macro-scale, the problem of predicting aneurysm ruptures is reviewed. It is
aimed here to attract the attention of engineers and mechanicians to problems in
biomechanics which, in the author's opinion, will dominate the development of
engineering and mechanics in forthcoming years.

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