Fluid Dynamics Seminar

Monday, Dec 4, 2006, 4:15 PM
Cullimore Lecture Hall, Room 611
New Jersey Institute of Technology


Two studies in biolocomotion: walking on water and slithering on land

David Hu


Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University



We consider two physical systems, one dominated by the influence of surface tension, the other by friction. We first present an experimental study of the hydrodynamics of water-walking insects and spiders. Particular attention is given to rationalizing their propulsion mechanisms using scaling and flow visualization. In the second part of the talk, we consider the propulsion of snakes over land, which is accomplished using a variety of techniques, including a unidirectional accordion-like mode, lateral sinuous slithering and sidewinding. In a simple computational mass-spring model, we prescribe the muscle activity of the snake and then calculate its motion as required by the torque and force balances on its body. A key feature of our model is that it allows us to rationalize the mode of locomotion of the snake on the basis of propulsive efficiency.