Dolphin-power sufficient for propulsion without tricks

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Posted January 16, 2014

For 60 years the world has believed that dolphins did not have enough muscle to propel them at high speed and that they were resorting to some fluid-flow trickery to pull off their impressive performance. But Frank Fish from West Chester University, USA, never believed it and now he has proved that not only do dolphins have sufficient muscle power, but also they routinely produce ten times more power than the fittest human athletes.

When Mr E. F. Thompson stood on a ship cruising through the Indian Ocean in the 1930s and observed a dolphin speed past the vessel in 7 seconds, he had no idea that this single observation would lead Sir James Gray to formulate the enduring paradox that bears Gray’s name to this day. Based on Thompson’s anecdote, Gray estimated the power required to propel the boisterous mammal through the waves at 20 knots (10.3 m/s) and concluded that the animal did not have enough muscle to pull off the feat. Puzzled by the paradox, Gray concluded that dolphins must use a trick of fluid mechanics to sustain the remarkable performance.

And there the paradox stood until Frank Fish from West Chester University, USA, got his teeth into the problem 60 years later.

Read more at: Phys.org



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