Friday, May 14, 2004

Scientists discover secret of dolphin speed

Pointed out by EurekAlerts
"Physicists in Japan have discovered how the surface of a dolphin's skin reduces drag and helps them glide smoothly and quickly through water. These findings could help scientists design faster, energy-efficient boats, ocean liners, and submarines. This research is published in the Institute of Physics journal, Journal of Turbulence."
Hiroshi Nagamine, Kenji Yamahata, Yoshimichi Hagiwara and Ryoichi Matsubara."Turbulence modification by compliant skin and strata-corneas desquamation of a swimming dolphin" J. Turbulence v5 n18 (May 2004). For subscribers here.
Basically, dolphins shed skin very rapidly and it seems that this helps get rid of vortexes that form around the body. Pretty neat, but to construct an equivalent material for a man-made object, it would have to have many layers (like a pad of paper) and the part that sloughs off would have to be environmentally friendly.

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