Nav: Home

What's the best way to accelerate: Muscles or springs?

April 26, 2018

A new study has pinpointed principles that are common in the mechanical systems that animals, plants, fungi and machines use to maximize kinetic energy delivery. The results help explain why some animals have muscles to generate force, while others rely on spring-like systems and stored energy. Three key components of a power-generating and power-amplifying system can include a motor that inputs energy, a spring that can store energy, and a latch to trigger a sudden release. Here, Mark Ilton and colleagues used modeling to explore when these components work together efficiently - and when they don't. Their work includes a dataset of acceleration in kinetic systems of more than 100 species. Among several findings, they report that the shape of the latch influences the duration of energy release. Shorter release times yield greater power amplification, while a sufficiently long duration can completely eliminate power amplification. Of note, the authors found evidence to explain why systems that amplify power (those involving a spring), tend to be small; as it turns out, above a certain size, a spring does not enhance kinematic output and an organism is best served by using muscle. As well, muscle-based power amplification was found to have lower and upper limits in efficacy, which the authors say may explain why the smallest and largest insects tend to jump more slowly than mid-sized insects.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Power Articles:

It's a breeze: How to harness the power of the wind
Scientists from the University of Rhode Island, Florida Atlantic University, USA, and Wuhan University, China, teamed up to find a way to optimize wind power for use, even when it's not blowing.
Abusing power hurts leaders, too
We know that power can corrupt, making people act in ways that harm others.
Predictive power
The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors carried out the largest time-dependent simulation of a nuclear reactor ever to support Tennessee Valley Authority and Westinghouse Electric Company during the startup of Watts Bar Unit 2, the first new US nuclear reactor in 20 years.
Lust for power
Thanks to the discovery of a new material by University of Utah engineers, a cooking pan could generate enough electricity to charge a cellphone in just a few hours.
The power of wind energy and how to use it
Wind offers an immense, never ending source of energy that can be successfully harnessed to power all of the things that currently draw energy from non-renewable resources.
More Power News and Power Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...