Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Razor Clams, Anchors, and Fluid Dynamics
Apparently biologists can measure the strength of a muscle, and have concluded that clams to not have enough muscles to plow more than 1-2 centimeters into the ocean floor. Winter and colleagues took an empty clam shell, filled it with epoxy, and tried to drive it into an exposed seashore, concluding that a clam could burrow no deeper than 2 cm.
Why is it then, that clam-collecting, is a rather challenging exercise--the clams shouldn't be able to get away from the collectors. In fact, they can dig themselves into the sand at a rate of roughly a centimeter per second or more. How do they do this? Amos Winter et al. have proposed a localized fluidization mechanism (Journal of Experimental Biology, 215, 2072, 2012). The authors say that the clam technique could be a model for engineering self-burying machines.
Clam digging isn't a recreational option in the midwest where I live, but this makes me really eager to try my hand next time I'm at the sea shore!
Posted by Susan W. Kieffer at 6:59 PM