Last week our Associate Director for Arboriculture, Helen Kirk, had the privilege of hearing Claus Mattheck presenting his recent work over two days at Loughborough University.
Prof. Dr. Claus Mattheck was born in Dresden, Germany and gained a PhD in Theoretical Physics in Dresden in 1973, qualified to lecture in Failure Analysis at Karlsruhe University in 1985, and now lectures on biomechanics as a professor. He is head of department of Biomechanics at the Institute for Materials Research II of the Karlsruhe Research Centre, licensed consultant on the mechanics and fracture behaviour of trees, on wood decomposing fungi and on fatigue fractures in engineering components.
He has spent the last thirty years researching tree form and failure, his work has significantly influenced Arboricultural practice across the world, through introduction of the widely used reference ‘The Body Language of Trees’.
The first day of his lectures was spent recapping on the science and art of his inspection system developed over twenty years ago, Visual Tree Assessment (VTA), a method by which our tree assessments are conducted. The second day introduced his latest research and book, ‘Body Language of Structures, entitled ‘Pauli Explains the Form in Nature’ along with a summary of the best of the last five years of VTA research. As always, Claus has simplified what are very complex mathematics and equations in mechanics and physics to enable clearer understanding for practitioners, the end result being an improved understanding of the biomechanics of trees leading to reduced fears over safety thus allowing managers and practitioners to make decisions as to tree management. Judging the mechanical safety of trees needs to be based on a sound working knowledge of the biomechanical ‘self-optimisation’ of a trees form, enabling danger signals to be recognised from the body language and warn of potential future problems so appropriate action can be taken.
These lectures are likely to be the last in the UK and Helen was privileged to have attended. All of the Arboriculture department at FPCR would like thank Claus for his considerable contribution to the Arboriculture and Forestry industry.