Press Release 086/2009

Traces of Movement

New Book by Professor Claus Mattheck Mechanically Interprets Human Body Language
The title page of the book “Bewegungsspuren“ (traces of movement) almost is a table of contents. (Photo by: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe)

The spirit of man is expressed by his movement, his attitude, his mimics or – more generally speaking – by his body language. This approach is pursued by Professor Dr. Claus Mattheck in his latest book “Bewegungsspuren” (traces of movement). With a simple muscle model of the face, the trees as teachers in static matters, and much support by Pauli, the Bear, Mattheck shows in an entertaining manner what is ex-pressed by human body language and how it works.

Its starts in the buggy: The nice uncle from next door, who wants to tickle our belly, is either driven back by our screams or welcome with our baby’s smile. This is a result of the child’s analysis of body lan-guage that continues throughout life. People read the mimics and gestures of the persons surrounding them and react to them.

A look out of a window at the deformation of trees shows us the force of the wind. Deformation by movement from a basic composure may also be interpreted as the body language of lifeless structures. If the upright composure is the opposite of decline, shape optimization in nature and engineering is a possibility of keeping (bio)mechanical countenance.

Professor Dr. Claus Mattheck, Head of the Biomechanics Division of the Institute for Materials Research of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, deals with “human body language” using plausibility studies and results of field studies rather than strictly scientific evidence. As a basis, earlier publications on the body language of trees or fungal fruit bodies and last, but not least on the universal shapes of nature are applied.

Gravitation and the way how living beings master this permanent burden play an important role in the book. “Trees keep straight by reaction wood and straighten up again after tilting. Man uses muscles for this purpose”, Claus Mattheck draws the parallel. “Outer composure is a sign of inner resilience. In the past, this was referred to as countenance. Trees use the lignin to keep their countenance”.

The book “Bewegungsspuren” is written in the style of a scientific cartoon that is typical of Claus Mattheck. It contains many illustrations and pencil portraits and is accompanied by Pauli, the Bear, to demonstrate many laws of nature. The book (138 pages, ISBN: 978-3-923704-68-2) has just been published by Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe and is offered at a price of EUR 28 by the book store Hoser & Mende KG, Karlsruhe (phone: +49 (0)721- 981610; fax: +49 (0) 721-815343; e-mail). Representatives of the media may request the book for review by contacting Inge Arnold (phone +49 (0)7247 82-2861; e-mail).

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

jh, July 28, 2009


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Inge Arnold
Presse, Kommunikation und Marketing (PKM)
Phone: +49 721 608-22861
Fax: +49 721 608-25080
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The photo of printing quality may be requested bypresse does-not-exist.verwaltung uni-karlsruhe de or phone: +49 721 608-7414.

The press release is available as a PDF file.