Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Mechanics


The survival of both the hunter and the hunted often comes down to speed. Yet how fast an animal can run is intricately linked to its size, such that the fastest animals are not the biggest nor the smallest. The ability to maintain high speeds is dependent on the body’s capacity to withstand the high stresses involved with locomotion. Yet even when standing still, scaling principles would suggest that the mechanical stress an animal feels will increase in greater demand than its body can support. So if big animals want to be fast, they must find solutions to overcome these high stresses. This article explores the ways in which extant animals mitigate size-related increases in musculoskeletal stress in an effort to help understand where all the giants have gone.

Concepts: English-language films, Force, Classical mechanics, Extinction, Mechanics, Roger Waters


The combined influence of cyclic fatigue and torsional stress on rotary nickel-titanium instruments has been little investigated. The aim of this study was to determine possible differences in the fracture point of rotary nickel-titanium instruments depending on the application of cyclic fatigue only (CO) or in combination with torsional stress (CT).

Concepts: Fracture mechanics, Elasticity, Mechanics, Polar moment of inertia


Bark patterns are a visually important characteristic of trees, typically attributed to fractures occurring during secondary growth of the trunk and branches. An understanding of bark pattern formation has been hampered by insufficient information regarding the biomechanical properties of bark and the corresponding difficulties in faithfully modelling bark fractures using continuum mechanics. This study focuses on the genus Xanthorrhoea (grasstrees), which have an unusual bark-like structure composed of distinct leaf bases connected by sticky resin. Due to its discrete character, this structure is well suited for computational studies.

Concepts: Continuum mechanics, Mechanical engineering, Tree, Biomechanics, Pattern, Solid mechanics, Trunk, Mechanics


The V-W exponential hyperelastic model is adopted to describe the instantaneous elastic response of the periodontal ligament (PDL). The general theoretical framework of constitutive modeling is described based on nonlinear continuum mechanics, and the elasticity tensor used to develop UMAT subroutine is formulated. Nanoindentation experiment is performed to characterize mechanical properties of an adult pig PDL specimen. Then the experiment is simulated by using the finite element (FE) analysis. Meanwhile, the optimized material parameters are identified by the inverse FE method. The good agreement between the simulated results and experimental data demonstrates that the V-W model is capable of describing the mechanical behavior of the PDL. Therefore, the model and its implementation into FE code are validated. By using the model, we simulate the tooth movement under orthodontic loading to predict the mechanical responses of the PDL. The results show that local concentrations of stress and strain in the PDL are found.

Concepts: Engineering, Continuum mechanics, Stress, Elasticity, Solid mechanics, Linear elasticity, Mechanics, Tensor


Clavicle fractures may occur in all age groups, and 70%-80% of clavicle fractures occur in the midshaft. Many methods for treating midshaft clavicular fractures have been reported and remain controversial. To provide some guidance for clinical treatment, 30 artificial polymethyl methacrylate models of the clavicle were sewn obliquely at the midshaft to simulate the most common type of clavicular fractures, and the fracture models were divided into five groups randomly and were fixed as follows: the reconstruction plates were placed at the superior position of the fracture model (R-S group), the reconstruction plates were placed at the anteroinferior position of the fracture model (R-AI group), the locking plates were placed at the superior position (L-S group), the locking plates were placed at the anteroinferior position (L-AI group); and the control models were unfixed (control group). The strain gauges were attached to the bone surface near the fracture fragments, and then, the biomechanical properties of the specimens were measured using the compression test, torsion test and three-point bending test. The results showed that plate fixation can provide a stable construct to help with fracture healing and is the preferred method in the treatment of clavicle fractures. The locking plate provides the best biomechanical stability when placed at the anteroinferior position, and this surgical method can reduce the operation time and postoperative complications; thus, it would be a better choice in clinical practice.

Concepts: Bone, Bone fracture, Fracture, Group, Biomechanics, Clavicle fracture, Reconstruction era of the United States, Mechanics


River bed-load transport is a kind of dense granular flow, and such flows are known to segregate grains. While gravel-river beds typically have an “armoured” layer of coarse grains on the surface, which acts to protect finer particles underneath from erosion, the contribution of granular physics to river-bed armouring has not yet been investigated. Here we examine these connections in a laboratory river with bimodal sediment size, by tracking the motion of particles from the surface to deep inside the bed, and find that armour develops by two distinct mechanisms. Bed-load transport in the near-surface layer drives rapid, shear rate-dependent advective segregation. Creeping grains beneath the bed-load layer give rise to slow but persistent diffusion-dominated segregation. We verify these findings with a continuum phenomenological model and discrete element method simulations. Our experiments suggest that some river-bed armouring may be due to granular segregation from below-rather than fluid-driven sorting from above-while also providing new insights on the mechanics of segregation that are relevant to a wide range of granular flows.

Concepts: Physics, Sediment, River, Continuum mechanics, Mechanics, Flow network, Segregation, Sediment transport


Avoiding predators is an essential behavior in which animals must quickly transform sensory cues into evasive actions. Sensory reflexes are particularly fast in flying insects such as flies, but the means by which they evade aerial predators is not known. Using high-speed videography and automated tracking of flies in combination with aerodynamic measurements on flapping robots, we show that flying flies react to looming stimuli with directed banked turns. The maneuver consists of a rapid body rotation followed immediately by an active counter-rotation and is enacted by remarkably subtle changes in wing motion. These evasive maneuvers of flies are substantially faster than steering maneuvers measured previously and indicate the existence of sensory-motor circuitry that can reorient the fly’s flight path within a few wingbeats.

Concepts: Insect, Measurement, Aerodynamics, Mechanics, Fly, Flight, Flying and gliding animals, Lift


In the Everest valley of Nepal, because of the rugged mountain terrain, roads are nothing more than dirt paths and all material must be conveyed on foot. The Nepalese porters routinely carry head-supported loads, which often exceed their body mass, over long distances up and down the steep mountain footpaths. In Africa, women transport their loads economically thanks to an energy-saving gait adaptation. We hypothesized that the Nepalese porters may have developed a corresponding mechanism. To investigate this proposition, we measured the mechanical work done during level walking in Nepalese porters while carrying different loads at several speeds. Our results show that the Nepalese porters do not use an equivalent mechanism as the African women to reduce work. In contrast, the Nepalese porters develop an equal amount of total mechanical work as Western control subjects while carrying loads of 0 to 120% of their body mass at all speeds measured (0.5-1.7 m s(-1)), making even more impressive their ability to carry loads without any apparent mechanically determined tricks. Nevertheless, our results show that the Nepalese porters have a higher efficiency, at least at slow speeds and high loads.

Concepts: Energy, Africa, Force, Road, Mechanics, Work


3D scaffolds of graphene, possessing ultra-low density, macroporous microstructure, and high yield strength and stiffness can be developed by a novel plasma welding process. The bonding between adjacent graphene sheets is investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. The high degree of biocompatibility along with high porosity and good mechanical properties makes graphene an ideal material for use as body implants.

Concepts: Oxygen, Engineering, Tensile strength, Porosity, Classical mechanics, Elasticity, Mechanics, Bulk density


Fractures of bone account 25% of all paediatric injuries (Cooper et al. in J Bone Miner Res 19:1976-1981, 2004. ). These can be broadly categorised into accidental or inflicted injuries. The current clinical approach to distinguish between these two is based on the clinician’s judgment, which can be subjective. Furthermore, there is a lack of studies on paediatric bone to provide evidence-based information on bone strength, mainly due to the difficulties of obtaining paediatric bone samples. There is a need to investigate the behaviour of children’s bones under external loading. Such data will critically enhance our understanding of injury tolerance of paediatric bones under various loading conditions, related to injuries, such as bending and torsional loads. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate the response of paediatric femora under two types of loading conditions, bending and torsion, using a CT-based finite element approach, and to determine a relationship between bone strength and age/body mass of the child. Thirty post-mortem CT scans of children aged between 0 and 3 years old were used in this study. Two different boundary conditions were defined to represent four-point bending and pure torsional loads. The principal strain criterion was used to estimate the failure moment for both loading conditions. The results showed that failure moment of the bone increases with the age and mass of the child. The predicted failure moment for bending, external and internal torsions were 0.8-27.9, 1.0-31.4 and 1.0-30.7 Nm, respectively. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first report on infant bone strength in relation to age/mass using models developed from modern medical images. This technology may in future help advance the design of child, car restrain system, and more accurate computer models of children.

Concepts: Bone, Torque, Finite element method, Continuum mechanics, Elliptic boundary value problem, Mechanics, Torsion, Polar moment of inertia