(Photo: Barry Peters)
Millions of years of evolution have produced the perfect design for moving through the water: the stingray. That’s the argument advanced by University of Buffalo researchers Richard Bottom, a mechanical engineering graduate student and Imam Borazjani, an engineering professor.
The pair looked at the way that water flows over the stingray’s body as it moves. What they found is a remarkably efficient means of propulsion:
The vortices on the waves of the stingrays’ bodies cause favorable pressure fields — low pressure on the front and high pressure on the back — which push the ray forward. Because movement through air and water are similar, understanding vortices are critical.
“By looking at nature, we can learn from it and come up with new designs for cars, planes and submarines,” says Borazjani. “But we’re not just mimicking nature. We want to understand the underlying physics for future use in engineering or central designs.”
-via Popular Science