A magic formula of physics is propelling animals across the planet, from birds and sharks to jellyfish, according to a new discovery by researchers at Texas A&M University.
While people struggle with fixed-wing aircraft and solid propellers, animals triumph with flexible wings, fins and tails and now we know that despite their other vastly differing characteristics, they are all moving in essentially the same way.
“We found insects, birds, bats, whales, fish, dolphins, even smaller molluscs are all using the same basic mechanics,” said Marine Biologist Nathan Johnson from A&M at Galveston who did the study with colleagues from Harvard, California Institute of Technology, Indiana University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
It shows just how advanced Mother Nature’s designs are compared to human engineering. Scientists hope their findings will help technology catch up with millions of years of evolution.
They found that the animals all flex their wing, tail or fin within a “magic range” of 30 to 60 degrees, and they all bend just 30% of whatever their relevant propulsor is.
Sounds obvious, but it’s something humans have yet to replicate by relying only on stiff wings for aircrafts and similar non-flexible propellers for boats. Thus missing out on nature’s discovery of a potentially perfect universal design.
“The best reason we can think that these similarities are there in nature is that they are the most energy efficient,” said Johnson.
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