In a press conference at the 75th annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics on Nov. 21, physicists will describe how swimming and flying animals navigate their surroundings.
Journalists are invited to attend the press conference online or in room 210 of the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis on Nov. 21 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EST.
Registration for the meeting is required to attend the press conference. Journalists with valid APS credentials may register for the meeting at no cost. To request APS press credentials, fill out the form on APS’ online press room.
Additional details, including instructions for joining the press conference remotely, will be sent via email to registered journalists. The press conference will be recorded and available upon request.
Descriptions of the presentations that will be featured in the press conference are below.
How Shrimp Legs Minimize Drag While Swimming
Shrimp and certain other aquatic animals swim by beating closely-spaced, flexible legs. Past studies have shown that the stiffness and increased surface area of these legs during the power stroke maximizes thrust, but little research has focused on how the legs bend during recovery strokes and how this contributes to reducing drag. Now, Nils Tack and colleagues describe how they studied the relationship between shrimp legs’ mechanical properties and their interactions with surrounding fluid. Among other findings, they observed that the legs bend almost horizontally and produce no detectable vortices from their tips during recovery strokes. Understanding how the properties of shrimp and other organisms’ legs affect swimming efficiency could help researchers design new underwater robots with various capabilities.
The Flapping of Fruit Fly Wings Helps Them ‘Sniff Out’ Smells for Navigation
Many insects rely on their sense of smell to track down food or potential mates, but little is known about how they use plumes of odor to navigate. Here, Chengyu Li and colleagues show how they used simulations to study the role of fruit flies’ flapping wings in both flying and smelling. They found that flapping can help draw plumes of odor toward the fruit flies’ smell-detecting antennae — analogous to other animals that sniff to draw odors into their noses — and investigated whether the flapping that improves their smelling ability affects how well they can fly. Their findings will further researchers’ understanding of how insects use smell to navigate and could also lead to applications in odor-guided navigation for miniature drones.
How Honeybees Fly in Windy Conditions
Wind creates invisible vortices of turbulence in the air. But even small flying animals, like insects, seem to be able to navigate these invisible turbulent vortices. In their presentation, Bardia Hejazi and colleagues describe how they tracked honeybees’ flight with GoPro cameras and compared it in calm and windy conditions. The team found that windy conditions don’t seem to affect the bees’ flight performance, but do make them perform more evasive maneuvers and follow zig-zagging trajectories. These observations could help researchers develop strategies for flying miniature robots in windy conditions.
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The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories and industry in the United States and throughout the world.