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.

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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

7 Ways to Use Toothpaste: Howdini Hacks

Howdini (July 30, 2014) Fresh breath and clean teeth are great, but have you ever thought, "my toothpaste could be doing more". Well, it can! Lots of things! Howdini has 7 new uses for this household staple. Video provided by Howdini
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
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:
from the past week

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