Amatsu in Detail
However, humans, and indeed all biologic structures, are mobile, omni directional, gravity independent structures built of ‘soft materials’, foams, colloids and emulsions, (bone and wood are stiff foams, like Styrofoam.) Therefore Dr Levin concluded that the mechanical laws as applied to these structures may be different.
In the mid 1970s Dr. Levin lived outside of Washington, DC, and he went to study the dinosaurs at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in his search for answers. He just could not accept the standard Borellian model but he could not find another suitable model. Sitting on the mall in front of the museum, he looked across and remembered the Needle Tower, a Kenneth Snelson sculpture2 right across the mall at the Hirshhorn Museum and so began the rest of the story of the evolution of biotensegrity.
The word tensegrity is a combination of the words tension and integrity; wholeness based on a balance between tension and compression. The concept in brief is that the human body is a living, tensegrous structure that is self supporting. There are no shears, bending moments or levers, just simple tension and compression in a self organising, hierarchical, load distributing and low energy consuming structure. Tensegrities are closed systems in that they are structurally independent of outside forces. Within the body the soft tissues provide the tension whilst the bones provide the compression.3