In Tight Spaces, Sperm Slither Rather Than Shimmy

Sperm usually swim in a 3D shimmy: a spiral wave travels down the whippy flagellum and rotates its head in a circle around its long axis. That “bulk swimming” is fine most of the time, but it isn’t a great option when a sperm cell gets close to a surface. That’s when they switch to “slither” mode. »11/17/15 12:30pm11/17/15 12:30pm


Lampreys Could Hold the Key to Better Underwater Robots

The lamprey—a jawless, toothy suction funnel that looks like it sprung to life out of the Alien storyboards—is the sort of creature whose existence most of us would prefer not to dwell on. But lampreys are among the most efficient swimmers on Earth, and their unusual stroke could help engineers design low-cost… »11/03/15 5:00pm11/03/15 5:00pm

Haunting 3-minute music video tells the panspermia story better than Prometheus did

In Prometheus, we saw a mysterious alien seeding the Earth with DNA. This act of fertilizing a planet with life from space is called panspermia. And in this music video from director Tom Walsh and the band Swimming, you can see a breathtaking short story of panspermia that feels far more satisfying than the one in … »10/12/12 12:56pm10/12/12 12:56pm

Science settles some decades-old debates about the best way to swim

As we go into the final two days of Olympic swimming — the men's open water 10k is today –- scientists are already telling swimmers how to improve their stroke for the next Olympic Games. Two different studies are reconsidering the biomechanics of swimmers' pulls, a hotly debated topic among coaches and athletes. »8/10/12 7:02pm8/10/12 7:02pm

Everything you wanted to know about the physics of ducks' feet

What is the optimum stroke angle for a duck's foot when paddling? Although a duck may already intuitively know the answer, the question has now been clarified for us humans as part of a recent research project undertaken at the prestigious California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in the US. »9/24/11 2:40pm9/24/11 2:40pm