Catch a glimpse of a fish's body shape, and you can often guess how speedy it is. Tuna and mackerel look as if they should outpace frilly reef fish and eels. But how have all of these diverse body shapes evolved? Have fish bodies been shaped by the hydrodynamics of their environment or did they evolve for other reasons?
Turning to computational fish for answers, professor of Civil Engineering Fotis Sotiropoulos, along with postdoctoral researcher Iman Borazjani, from the university’s St. Anthony Falls Laboratory decided to race hybrid and realistic fish in a massive parallel computer cluster to find out what influence the aquatic environment has had on fish shapes and swimming techniques.
But building the computational fish was far from straightforward. ”We started this work over five years ago,“ says Sotiropoulos. "It was a challenge because we had never simulated anything living before."
Borazjani explains that the hydrodynamic forces exerted on swimmers vary enormously depending on their size and speed. Knowing that mackerel and eels swimming in water generate and thus experience different hydrodynamic environments, the duo simulated these different environments by varying tail beat frequencies and fluid viscosity (syrupiness).
Building two computational mackerels (one that beat its tail like a mackerel and a second that wriggled like an eel) and two eels (one that wriggled and another that beat its tail like a mackerel), the engineers set the fish racing from standing starts and noted how they performed.
The results showed clearly that all fish swam more efficiently if they had the body form or swimming style appropriate to the speeds at which they swam. For example, a lamprey that needed to swim faster could gain efficiency—which for a real fish would mean tiring less quickly—if it changed its shape or swimming style to mimic a mackerel. And a mackerel that had to move slowly would be more efficient if it could change shape or swimming style to mimic a lamprey. This is evidence that a fish’s optimal range of swimming speeds generates hydrodynamic forces that influence the shape and swimming style it will evolve.
“From these experiments, we can deduce that real mackerel and eel's swimming styles are perfectly adapted to the hydrodynamic environments that they inhabit," says Sotiropoulos. The method could be adapted to study how a fluid environment molds the evolution of other organisms and to design robots that would swim at different speeds or in water of different viscosities, the researchers say.
The full article can be found on the Journal of Experimental Biology Web site: http://bit.ly/b2ZqeY
More information about professor Sotiropoulos’ research at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory can be found at www.safl.umn.edu.
How gut bacteria can make us ill
18.01.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences
18.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences