The Reading List

Trying to integrate the math, chemistry, and physics required to understand physiological systems takes a long time and there are not many texts available that provide an integrated approach. So a lot of the information has to come from a wide range of sources. Here are some of the best ones that I’ve found so far.

  • Vital Circuits by Steven Vogel. This is my favorite science book of all time. I re-read it about once a year (usually making my students read it with me). There are a wealth of interesting facts. Heart doesn’t have any fat and that is important to the processed meat industry. There are animals whose blood is blue or green. But, more importantly, Vogel provides a structured perspective on biology providing both an evolutionary and hierarchical perspective on the cardiovascular system. He also provides some of the best explanations of viscosity and density that I have ever found. His stated goal is to teach engineering to biologists, but I personally believe that his biggest accomplishment is teaching physiology to engineers.
  • The Tiger by John Valliant. Possibly the greatest integration of science, nature, politics, economics, and geography. The Tiger that is the subject of the book is portrayed as vastly more intelligent, dangerous, and sympathetic than most of us would ever have thought possible. Along they way I learned a lot about the Southeast corner of Russia (near Vladivostok), and the historical ethnography of this very complicated part of the world.
  • Advanced Engineering Mathematics by Michael Greenberg. Having taken three classes from Dr. Greenberg, I suspect I am somewhat biased, but this book gave me a huge advantage in graduate school and as a faculty member. He covers pretty much everything from differential equations to vector calculus, complex variables, and PDEs. I think that, what I like most about the text, is that he tells you what the tricks are. More importantly, he tells you why they work and why they’re important. So everything fits into a (rather large) framework.