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Northwestern researchers examine mechanical bases for the emergence of undulatory swimmers
Date:6/24/2013

upon mechanical parameters, is not sensitive to minor generational changes; as long as the body stiffness is above a certain value, the ability to swim quickly is insensitive to the value of the stiffness, the researchers found.

Finally, making a connection to the neural control of movement, the researchers analyzed the curvature of its undulations to determine if it was the result of a single bending torque, or if precise bending torques were necessary at every point along its body. They learned that a simple movement pattern gives rise to the complicated-looking deformation.

"This suggests that the animal does not need precise control of its movements," Patankar said.

To make these determinations, the researchers applied a common physics concept known as "spring mass damper" -- a model, applied to everything from car suspension to Slinkies, that determines movement in systems that are losing energy -- to the body of the fish.

This novel approach for the first time unified the concepts of active and passive swimming -- swimming in which forcing comes from within the fish (active) or from the surrounding water (passive) by calculating the conditions necessary for the fish to swim both actively and passively.


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Contact: Megan Fellman
fellman@northwestern.edu
847-491-3115
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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