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A Mathematical Nature Walk by John A. Adam

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images In the forest

Q.79: How high can trees grow?

The mechanical or elastic properties of trees determine whether or not a tree trunk will buckle under its own weight, and whether or not a branch will bend or break under a load. Thus, stiffness and strength are properties determined by the elasticity of the structure. Consider some facts concerning trees: (i) In relation to its density, wood is stiffer and stronger, both in bending and twisting, than concrete, cast iron, aluminum alloy, or steel; (ii) trees are frugal in their use of resources for growth; (iii) they“use”the“principle of minimum weight”; this self-explanatory principle means ...

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