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Concept: Mechanics


We investigate the effect of mechano-electrical feedback and atrial fibrillation induced electrical remodelling (AFER) of cellular ion channel properties on the dynamics of spiral waves in a discrete 2D model of human atrial tissue. The tissue electro-mechanics are modelled using the discrete element method (DEM). Millions of bonded DEM particles form a network of coupled atrial cells representing 2D cardiac tissue, allowing simulations of the dynamic behaviour of electrical excitation waves and mechanical contraction in the tissue. In the tissue model, each cell is modelled by nine particles, accounting for the features of individual cellular geometry; and discrete inter-cellular spatial arrangement of cells is also considered. The electro-mechanical model of a human atrial single-cell was constructed by strongly coupling the electrophysiological model of Colman et al. to the mechanical myofilament model of Rice et al., with parameters modified based on experimental data. A stretch-activated channel was incorporated into the model to simulate the mechano-electrical feedback. In order to investigate the effect of mechano-electrical feedback on the dynamics of spiral waves, simulations of spiral waves were conducted in both the electromechanical model and the electrical-only model in normal and AFER conditions, to allow direct comparison of the results between the models. Dynamics of spiral waves were characterized by tracing their tip trajectories, stability, excitation frequencies and meandering range of tip trajectories. It was shown that the developed DEM method provides a stable and efficient model of human atrial tissue with considerations of the intrinsically discrete and anisotropic properties of the atrial tissue, which are challenges to handle in traditional continuum mechanics models. This study provides mechanistic insights into the complex behaviours of spiral waves and the genesis of atrial fibrillation by showing an important role of the mechano-electrical feedback in facilitating and promoting atrial fibrillation.

Concepts: Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Action potential, Force, Computer graphics, Behavior, Mechanics, Electromechanics


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


Evaluating risk of fatigue fractures in cardiovascular implants via non-clinical testing is essential to provide an indication of their durability. This is generally accomplished by experimental accelerated durability testing and often complemented with computational simulations to calculate “fatigue safety factors”. While many methods exist to calculate fatigue safety factors, none have been validated against experimental data. The current study presents three methods for calculating fatigue safety factors and compares them to experimental fracture outcomes under axial fatigue loading, using cobalt-chromium test specimens designed to represent cardiovascular stents. Fatigue safety factors were generated by calculating mean and alternating stresses using a simple Scalar Method, a Tensor Method which determines principal values based on averages and differences of the stress tensors, and a Modified Tensor Method which accounts for stress rotations. The results indicate that the Tensor Method and the Modified Tensor Method consistently predicted fracture or survival (to 10 million cycles) for specimens subjected to experimental axial fatigue. In contrast, for one axial deformation condition, the Scalar Method incorrectly predicted survival even though fractures were observed in experiments. These results demonstrate limitations of the Scalar Method and potential inaccuracies. A separate computational analysis of torsional fatigue was also completed to illustrate differences between the Tensor Method and the Modified Tensor Method. Because of its ability to account for changes in principal directions across the fatigue cycle, the Modified Tensor Method offers a general computational method that can be applied for improved predictions for fatigue safety regardless of loading conditions.

Concepts: Scientific method, Algorithm, Mathematics, Fracture mechanics, Hypothesis, Mechanics, Calculation, Tensor


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