Understanding the Biomechanics of Bone using Scaling Laws (adapted from Mark Peterson, Mt.

Holyoke College)

Introduction (Read before Lab)
You may have read in your textbook that larger animals (at least those who walk upon land) have thicker bones than do much smaller animals. Let¶s look at some skeletons for animals large and small.

Figure 1: Animals of different sizes have bones that must support dramatically different bodies. Images are obviously not to scale (left): mouse skeleton (http://www.biospace.fr/media/ct_skeleton_big.gif ) and (right) skeleton of an apatosaurus (a large sauropod dinosaur) (http://www.copyrightexpired.com/earlyimage/bones/large/display_osborn_apatosaurus.htm ) For each animal skeleton in Figure 1, observe the large bone of the upper leg, called the femur. (This is the analogy to your own thigh bone.) The idea is that, because of their dramatically different masses, bones for the apatosaurus need to be proportionally thicker for their length than those for the mouse: that is, their width-to-length ratio should be larger for the larger the animal. As early as the 1600¶s, the early physicist Galileo was interested in this question because he observed that living things do not grow arbitrarily large. He wanted to know what physical constraints set the limits to animal size, a topic with contemporary relevance as we face certain knowledge that planets are common in the Universe as a whole, and wonder what life may look like there.

Galileo explained this empirical fact (i.e, that there are not arbitrarily large animals) by arguing that the forces on bones must be offset by enough strength to prevent the bones from breaking in routine daily existence. The proportionally thicker bones of larger animals compensate for their greater mass. Since after a point, it becomes impractical to keep having thicker bones, this sets an effective limit to animal size. Galileo formulated his theories in the 1600¶s in the work Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences1. Implicitly, he was assuming that some mechanism (modern scientists would say natural selection and evolution) enforced this agreement between maximum force and mechanical design. Of course, people still care about the mechanics of bones, e.g., for understanding how to design prosthetics that replace natural bone. In another important case, the elderly often suffer from a condition called osteoporosis, in
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Galileo Galilei, Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences. My edition is translated by Henry Crew and Alfonso de Salvio ( Dover, New York 1954) and this argument appears on page 131, in the section ³Second Day [168]´. There Galileo makes the argument we¶ve conveyed about bone area, though not animal mass. Interestingly, the accompanying illustration of small and large bones makes it clear that Galileo actually does not get the scaling exponent attributed to him. For example, he refers to bending strength, not compressive strength, and does not appear to have thought through the argument about mass scaling. In fact, Darin Hayton (History Department, Haverford College) reports that Galileo is unlikely to have had access to actual bones from a collection, and that he probably reasoned from books containing etchings of animal skeletons popular at the time. Thus, it¶s unlikely he was reasoning from actual quantitative data (or that he felt that was appropriate or necessary!)

as: Fmax ~ Area ~ D2 cylinder with diameter D For a square bone with sides D wide. but we do know how M ought to depend on L. although surely Fmax also depends on the bone¶s properties (how dense it is. Now. the maximum force. ought to scale with body size in a particular way. where D is now diameter. M. which means ³is proportional to´. That¶s because the force of gravity Fg = Mg pushes down on the bones and the momentum is also proportional to mass (and hence. D. This often leads to debilitating fractures and a downward spiral of serious medical complications. We further argue that mass. we get: M = V L3 Of course. and that these dimensions each are proportional to long bone length. Let¶s argue that the forces in daily life are all proportional to body mass. with the same density V. Thus. By this reasoning. its . Fmax. Again. which seems plausible enough. Physicians are studying how age-dependent changes in bone geometry interact with losses in bone mineral density to determine bone strength. and hence bone length. We will now present the way this theory is represented in many modern texts. even physicists don¶t think animal bodies are cubes! This argument simply builds on the reasonable assumption that the actual body mass is proportional to body length x width x depth. how does bone strength depend on body geometry? By strength we mean the maximum force a bone can withstand without breaking.which bones lose mineral content and become brittle. the bone can support. M. arguments about what makes bones strong enough to withstand the rigors of daily life are very timely. Osteoporosis is currently diagnosed by measuring the density of bone minerals. we have only included the way strength depends upon width here.) We call pushing forces compressive forces. mass = density × volume. such as femur length L. Animals have complicated shapes. we should have: M ~ L3 where we introduce the symbol ³~´. depends upon its width. Galileo¶s theory leads to a quantitative prediction about how bone width ought to vary with animal size. So. in general. We now argue that we ought to be able to generalize this rule for any shape animal for any length in the body. for a cylindrical bone. its area varies as T (D/2)2. V. Thicker bones do seem better able to support more weight. any forces that must slow down a moving animal are also. even though it is known that bones take on different shapes (remodel) with age. the area varies as D2. so let¶s simplify things by assuming that the animal¶s body is approximately a cube of uniform density. We write the equation this way because for the actual shape of animals. We will argue that it ought to depend on the area of the bones supporting the body. so for a cube with edges L long. we don¶t know the multiplicative constant before L3. In general.

the other D. 1992) the authors present an alternative derivation using buckling forces on a vertical column that results in the same scaling law. although most systems have more complex scaling behavior than Galileo¶s model. Haverford¶s own Aaron Clauset (Haverford Physics & Computer Science ¶01.5 = 31.5 $ 5. (That is.D. Boulder) for example studies how to apply scaling laws to empirical data and the scaling of terrorist acts. then the diameter. among other topics. D. etc.) Galileo assumed that these quantities do not vary between animals. and so will we for now. they also show that this in fact accurately describes the way the diameter and height of tree trunks scale. now a professor at University of Colorado.2 greater than that of the smaller animal²the effect we began with.) While Galileo¶s version of this argument relies on an analysis of compressive forces. one has length 3L. in General Physics (2nd edition. Scaling laws also are an important tool in the study of animal evolution. Morton Sternheim & Joseph Kane. pg. 215 & 225-226. and so: L3 ~ D2 This is what physicists call a scaling law. L: D ~ L3/2 = L1. For example.g. By Galileo¶s reasoning. for example.detailed shape. It is a prediction of how bone width. in the analysis of networks and other topics of current scientific research. . one with have femur diameter 5. of the femur for the larger animal ought to be L1. if we have two animals. the other L).. one with femur length 3 times greater than another (e.2D.5 This theory explains why bones become proportionately thicker for larger animals. is expected to depend on bone length. we should have a balance between the forces depending on gravity (Fg) and the strength: M ~ Fmax . if we have a bone such as the femur that has to support the body mass above it then.

Either way. For a scaling law. L in a special format called a log-log plot. d. like LoggerPro. If we have a number X where: Y = 10x Then the logarithm base 10 of Y is: x = log Y = log (10x) Note two additional useful facts about logarithms: 1) Multiplying two numbers makes their logarithms add: log (AY) = log A + log Y because: 10 log (AY) = 10 log A + log Y = 10 log A 10 log Y = A Y 2) Raising a number to a power multiplies its logarithm by the value of that power: log (Yd) = d log Y because:    Returning to our earlier problem and using logarithms in the base 10 system. Another is to fit to this functional form by hand. Boulder. For a scaling law.´ A Clauset. KS Gleditsch Journal of Conflict Resolution. from the paper (³On the frequency of severe terrorist events.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/0606/0606007v3. now an assistant professor of computer science at University of Colorado. http://arxiv. Testing the scaling law hypothesis In your experiment. it is a good idea to first plot the data for D vs. 58-87 (2007) . let s review the concept of logarithms. in the scaling law: D ~ Ld One is to fit D to this functional form using a computer data analysis program.Figure 2 Left: A scaling law plot of the frequency of terrorist attack measures vs. you will investigate scaling law behavior of bone biomechanics. Right: Researcher Aaron Clauset. when we have: D = A Ld (where A is some constant). there are several ways to determine the quantity of interest. the severity of the event. To investigate this relationship more easily. M Young. the exponent.pdf). we get this relation for the logarithms of D and L: D = A Ld log D = log A + d log L .

but with different d. using a different set of assumptions. he discusses this diagram in some detail so it¶s supposed to demonstrate his point mathematically. when they are subjected to a maximum force that varies as showing below .5. so the scaling law exponent is d = 2. for that region where the data is linear on the log-log plot. Thin-walled tubes will buckle (i.e. To do this. it will still follow a straight line. If the data follows a different scaling law.5! Galileo is a big authority figure in science and even now I find only one reference to this error. body mass data below.) Galileo¶s bones (sketch & his actual finger) Prelab problem 3: Now derive a new scaling law. deform as shown below). revealing a linear dependence for part of the data. What exponent did Galileo actually think resulted from his argument? (Hint: it¶s not d = 1. you must compute the change in the power of 10 along each axis. Departures from a linear plot will indicate the scaling law hypothesis is incorrect. then the slope would be (y/(x = (3 ± 1)/(1 ± 0) = 2.Thus. Does your exponent agree with Galileo¶s theory? Prelab problem 2: The figure below shows a diagram that accompanies Galileo¶s actual scaling argument in his book. plotting the log of D and L thus ought to result in a straight line with slope d = 1. Prelab problem 1: Compute the exponent for the body length vs. Get out a measuring device like a ruler and determine how D depends on L for this figure.. For example. We see this at work in Figure 2(a). if you had data that changed along the x-axis by 100 to 101 and along the yaxis by 101 to 103. where the terrorist attack data has been plotted as the log along both the x and y axes.

arch.html (accessed 12-09-09) Before we do any experiments. which gives the resistance to bending. Discuss the following points with your team members and come up with at least two answers or possible responses to each point and arguments to support them. from Wikipedia The Experiments Part 1: Taking a hard look at Galileo s ideas Galileo¶s theory is often quoted as if it were established fact. (From our ³we can¶t make this stuff up´ collection: This is such a popular idea that you can even buy a dog toy shaped like Galileo¶s illustration and carefully scaled to his specifications from ³petite´ to ³souper´. General Physics). I = TR4/4 for a cylinder with radius R (as derived in Sternheim and Kane. and K is a constant with no dimensions that depends only on how the ends are supported. that is. varies with L for buckling in this situation: D ~ Lb. b = ? (Note this is different from the result for buckling cited above!) Figure 3 shows buckling in columns.edu/~km6e/arch324/content/lectures/lec-25/pres.. and hence we again have F ~ L3. let¶s ask ourselves some hard questions about Galileo¶s theory. though. as above. D. He got the wrong scaling exponent. Determine how the diameter.virginia. as in the textbooks cited above and in the images from a university website below. and he apparently didn¶t even test it on real bones! Figure 4 Galileo must be right. We will form a group again to share your responses after 10 minutes. since everyone reproduces his arguments and he even has his own brand of dog bones! http://www. where L = column length. find the new exponent. (These should not be drawn from your lab manual writeup.) Write up your responses on your lab report form. . E = the bulk modulus.) Maybe we should all be more careful. Assume that the force F is proportional to mass. I = area moment of inertia. though.

your team will select an experiment to perform from a list we will provide. We will begin taking data in about 15 minutes.A. Talk this over with your classmates and decide how to assign uncertainties to your measurements. What are the assumptions underlying the theory derived from Galileo s ideas? (Example: perhaps the forces on bones aren t proportional to mass. However. or the length between two other points? How uniform is the bone? What other factors matter for this experiment? You are trying to measure the diameter as a way of estimating area.) Explain how you will measure D and L for the bones provided (this should not just be We used a meter stick/calipers to measure D and L . The materials you are provided with are described in the table attached. When and where might they stay constant. In Logger Pro. enter your data for D and L (for example) in the spreadsheet. Be wary of scaling arguments based on only a factor of 2 or 3 change in someone¶s data! You will want to make measurements that vary by a factor of 10 or more in lab²don¶t set yourself up for a measurement that will not cover at least this much variation in bone length. First plot your data using LoggerPro and print it out. What might determine them instead?) B. figuring out how to take your measurements and determining your experimental uncertainties is one of the crucial parts of this experiment. in your report. Is it enough to say you can measure a distance across a femur at some location along its length to some precision? Why or why not? What angle will your measuring device make with the femur s long axis? Which points along the bone determine its length? The entire length. and what you need to measure to probe it thoroughly. What else might determine bone strength that his theory about compressive strength ignores? Name all the quantities you can think of that might play a role. WHERE did you measure D and L? Why that dimension? Were there alternatives. NOTE: We see from the mass scaling prelab problem that one really needs data that varies over a few factors of 10 to do a good job fitting data to a scaling law. and if so why did you choose this one? How does it best relate to your hypothesis? You may find the figure of a human femur on your report form helpful. you are ready to take some data. What other factors might determine bone dimensions apart from arguments about strength? PART 2: Formulating your hypotheses & designing your experiment Now that we have some provocative questions to work with. You might think that once you have formulated your experiment. and when might they change? C. so make good use of this time! PART 3: Taking data & testing your hypothesis You will be determining whether your data agree with scaling law arguments (or other functional forms) using log-log plots in Logger Pro and then fitting your data by hand. Write up your experimental design. Think through what hypothesis you are testing in your experiment. or aren t mostly determined by mass. but bones are not cylinders what is the best way to do this? Check with your instructor that the measurement methods you have in mind makes sense before taking a lot of data. including any hypotheses you are testing and how your design tests them. Include a description of your method for taking data and determining experimental uncertainties (error bars as well as underlying sources of accuracy and precision. Make a .

Before you do any fits. Perhaps only some of your data agree with a scaling law. go to the axes options tab.) Make up a plot for your report that shows your best fit. You might conclude that there is no clear trend in your data (i. trying labeling the datapoints to see if there are any systematic trends as to which points might agree to a scaling law 2. we ll stick with the eyeball test for this for now. either because it has the same value within error bars for all D. In that case. Label your plot axes and indicate units. Then. do they follow a different functional relationship (a constant plus a power law? sinusoidal? exponential? polynomial?) 3. This will involve drawing the lines with the maximum and minimum slopes possible that still agree with your data within error bars..plot of these quantities. Ask for help if you are having problems. 1. (The data collection and fitting part should take about 45 minutes at most. This has a section for the y-axis and x-axis that allows you to click on a box called Log axis . If 1) is not true. look over your plots as a team and determine which regions looks approximately linear (if any) then fit a straight line to these. come to the front computer and enter your data in the whole class s spreadsheet so we can compare results as a whole. or your other best fit parameters and functional form. You may talk with the instructors and other teams while you do this part. To see if that is the case. the log of L. Click on both these boxes then click OK. Estimate your exponent d as in the prelab exercise. double-click on the x and y axis labels. By estimating how widely your slope can vary and still plausibly fit your data. That is. D. This should bring up a menu box called Graph Options . they may not follow a scaling law at all. then measuring their slopes. or because it exhibits no clear trends when plotted vs. while there are good statistical measures of this. . your estimate for the exponent d and its error bars. estimate the error bars in d as well. Remember that your answer may be your data DO NOT LOOK LINEAR on a log-log plot.e. You should now have a plot of the log of D vs. you have several possibilities.) After you have your data set in hand. L does not depend on D.

and you can use LoggerPro for analyzing your data. All are plastic casts unless noted. 2 meter sticks. string. rulers. protractors. .Materials Measuring devices: digital calipers. meter sticks. Software: you can of course browse the web for much additional information (to look at actual skeletons? To get other supporting information?). Bones: We have a variety of bones from different types of animals of many sizes. and anything else you can think of that we have.

Measuring the dimensions yourself is far superior. In order to measure another distance on this image. For instance. Using a ruler and the image.7 (where I kept an extra significant figure to avoid rounding errors only. so I m giving an explicit guide here. etc. any of your own research images ought to be produced to high standards to avoid these same problems! http://www. which we will assume means its maximum height top to bottom when displayed vertically as shown in the image. 2) Using an image analysis program. but sometimes you need this information. Then. such as Adobe Photoshop. we learn that it s 437 pixels high = 73 (the length shows up as L1 = 437 pixels at top of the screen. the web. and the diameter is D cm long on the image. For this reason. which include: 1) You must trust the scalebar (and surprisingly often it s unclear what they correspond to.angelfire. and they are often even missing and must be inferred!) 2) You cannot measure diameter apart from the projection shown from one perspective.) Then. another research group s website. in Photoshop.com/mi/dinosaurs/dinosaurs_sauropods.) that you can use to click and drag a measuring line from one end of the femur to the other. You have a scale bar (a reliable measurement of some object on the image). First you find the scale bar (here we are told the total length of the bone is 6 foot 1 inches high (73 ). Doing so. Let s say that it s L cm long = 73 .) 1) There are obviously many sources of uncertainty here. etc. the approximate diameter = 82 pixels X (73 / 437 pixels ) = 13. 3) You must trust that the image was not distorted in any way side-to-side relative to up-and-down. to get the number of pixels that correspond to the known scale.) Let s assume you have information that comes from other scholarly articles.Analyzing images from other sources (books. in real units of inches in the real world D (true inches) = D (cm on the image) x (73 /L (cm on the image)). How do you proceed to get other measurements? I have found that students are often unsure how to proceed. so you should be quite clear of its limitations. it looks like a small ruler. we need to get an effective scale. there is a ruler tool (right click on the eyedropper tool to find it. use that same ruler tool to measure other distances and scale accordingly. measure how long the bone is on your image itself. For example.ht ml .

Vol. pp.Two side views of the femur of the largest land mammal to ever live: the baluchitherium (a relative of the modern rhinoceros) Baluchitherium osborni (? syn. Borrissyak) Clive Forster Cooper Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. 212. (1924). Series B. Indricotherium turgaicum. 35-66 . Containing Papers of a Biological Character.