Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pond skating insects reveal water-walking secrets

Date:
October 31, 2012
Source:
Institute of Physics
Summary:
An explanation of how pond skaters effortlessly skip across water leaving nothing but a small ripple in their wake has been made.

In a new article, science writer Stephen Ornes explains how pond skaters effortlessly skip across water leaving nothing but a small ripple in their wake.
Credit: mite / Fotolia

In a new article, science writer Stephen Ornes explains how pond skaters effortlessly skip across water leaving nothing but a small ripple in their wake.

Related Articles


As Ornes writes, our current understanding of the mechanisms adopted by the pond skater is down to the efforts of David Hu, who as a mathematics graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent four years studying their behaviour.

Hu, along with his PhD supervisor John Bush, found that pond skaters use the middle of their three pairs of legs to "row" across the water. When a rowing boat's oar slices the water, it creates swirling vortices just beneath the surface that twist away from the boat and move it forwards -- the same vortices are created by tiny hairs that cover the pond skater's legs.

The hairs are the only part of the insect's body that penetrate the water and are covered in a waxy substance that keeps water out by allowing bubbles to attach to them. The hairs have subsequently drawn the attention of materials scientists looking for a permanent waterproofing material that doesn't wash off.

The pond skater (also known as the water strider) is one of a tiny proportion of insects -- around 0.1 per cent -- that are able to stand and move on water. They stay afloat thanks to their small weight and the surface tension of water acting like a skin; however, according to Newton's third law of motion, the pond skater must push against something to move forward, which is fairly tricky when the only thing available is water.

Previous theories had suggested that pond skaters created tiny ripples -- known as "capillary waves" -- with their legs which subsequently propelled them across water, but as biologist Mark Denny pointed out in 1993, this couldn't be the case as infant pond skaters cannot move their legs faster than the phase speed of the capillary waves -- a feat necessary to create them.

Hu and Bush came to their conclusions by filming a group of pond skaters using high-speed cameras as they moved across a body of water filled with colourful floating particles -- this helped identify the swirling vortices that were being created.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Institute of Physics. "Pond skating insects reveal water-walking secrets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214136.htm>.
Institute of Physics. (2012, October 31). Pond skating insects reveal water-walking secrets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214136.htm
Institute of Physics. "Pond skating insects reveal water-walking secrets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121031214136.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins