Engineers usually spend their time designing and building things — bridges, machines, electronic devices. Some do other things — strange things. We’ll look at one of them, today on Engineering Works!
A lot of the things engineers know about move — cars, airplanes, the electrons in a computer chip. If you think about it, everything moves. You do. So do we. So do cats and dogs, fish and birds. All of them different, right? But guess what. You can explain how and why all these things move – cat, fish or you – with a single unified theory.
Mechanical engineers working with experimental biologists have figured out that the way animals – including humans – move, is basically flow. Engineers know a lot about flow. Flow works in space and time to make the movement of material efficient. When you apply flow to animals, it means that they move to travel the greatest distance while using the least energy. In fact, they found that the same principles will explain movement as different as the buzzing flight of a house fly and a jet-powered airliner.
The engineers figured out that you can use simple physics – gravity, density and mass – to explain a lot of what happens when animals fly, swim or run. They call it constructal law and they say it explains why animals evolved over time the way they and we have.
Our time has flowed on past us and it’s time for us to move on out of here. See you next time.