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What Do a Jellyfish, a Cat, a Snake, and an Astronaut Have in Common? Math


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Jellyfish in motion.

Caltech's Peter Schröder says animals that move by changing their shape can be explained by the principle of least dissipation, a concept positing that natural systems will always try to be as efficient as possible.

Credit: Caltech

A team led by California Institute of Technology (Caltech) researchers developed an algorithm that describes the various motions that help animals navigate their environments by changing their body shapes.

The principle of least dissipation can be used to explain these motions: natural systems always seek to be as efficient as possible.

This principle was used as the starting point in developing a computer model of the different kinds of motions.

Said Caltech's Peter Schröder, "It's just beautiful that you can identify a fairly simple governing principle of a whole class of different kinds of motion. It's not 100% accurate but shows remarkable agreement with motion observed in real life, suggesting that it captures a major part of what happens in nature.”

From Caltech News
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