Jellyfish Use A Surprising Trick To Swim Through The Water

Posted: Nov 3 2015, 9:08pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 3 2015, 9:11pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Jellyfish Use a Surprising Technique to Swim Through the Water
Credit: Sean P. Colin

Jellyfish and lampreys pull water rather than pushing it, as it has been previously supposed

Jellyfish and eel-like sea creature lampreys have a unique technique to swim through the water. 

Researchers from Stanford University have found a surprising secret about their unmatched swimming ability. Through an experiment, they have come to know that these sea animals essentially pull rather than push their way through the water. 

This discovery has made scientists rethink the fundamental principles about jellyfish’s propulsion system that has been established a long time ago.  

"It confounds all our assumptions," said John Dabiri, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and of mechanical engineering at Stanford. "But our experiments show that jellyfish and lampreys actually suck water toward themselves to move forward instead of pushing against the water behind them, as had been previously supposed."

Dabiri and his collaborators have been studying jellyfish and lampreys for years because both share a remarkable ability to move through the water with great efficiency. For many years, it has been believed that these animals generate high pressures to push water backward and move themselves forward.

Scientists suspected a flaw in this common understanding and through clever experimentation, they have found that jellyfish use umbrella shaped plume to pull the water ahead of it and propel forward. 

The most difficult thing about the experiment was to measure the variable of pressure accurately since fluids have innumerable molecules and it makes them difficult to calculate. 

To describe the behavior of solid objects like swimming animal in fluid, mathematician Leonard Euler’ equation was applied by the scientists. They used a water tank with millions of tiny glass beads. The beads served as water molecules. Then, they placed two lasers opposite to each other alongside high-speed digital cameras.

As jellyfish and lampreys swim through the tank, their motion unsettled the glass beads and their positions were tracked by lasers and recorded by cameras. Time and flow was as usual measured precisely. The results of elusive variable pressure were entered into computer that transformed the data in visual representation. The visual representation made it clear that low pressure pockets drive the propulsion, by pulling water toward the animal to move it forward.

The startling truth about marine animals swimming technique may help improve designs of advanced under vehicles like submarines and ships.

Source: Stanford University

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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