Summary of How to Walk on Water and Climb up Walls

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8 Overall

8 Importance

8 Innovation

7 Style


David L. Hu’s exploration of animal movement, its study, and its application to robotics and medicine is a joy to read. Hu’s informed, unpretentious writing explores decidedly original subject matter. He cites numerous fascinating and bizarre research-based twists and turns that derive from studying animal movement patterns. For example, certain college professors fear three-day holiday weekends because that extra day without supervision gives laboratory fire ants more time to figure out how to escape their confinement. Hu revels in these and other evocative images and facts. He connects these incidents and uses them to frame vivid, unforgettable tales of animal locomotion and the implications of research in the field. Hu’s wit, arcane knowledge and curiosity will engage anyone interested the strange hidden realities of animal and human life, scientific exploration, and the intersection of robotics and natural movement.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How animals move,
  • How scientists study animal movement, and
  • How both practices contribute to medicine and robotics.

About the Author

David L. Hu is associate professor of fluid dynamics at Georgia Tech.



Animal Movement

All animals must move. Evolutionarily, movement developed to get access to energy in the form of food. Animals use movement to navigate different conditions, such as pursuing prey or evading threats. The study of animal movement expanded in the early 20th century with applied mathematics and new imaging technologies, such as the first uses of strobe photography in the 1930s. Each advance in imaging technologies furthers animal movement studies. Current animal movement studies happen at the intersection of imaging, robotics, computing, fluid dynamics and other disciplines.

How Do They Walk on Water, Slither, Swim or Fly?

Because water strider insects weigh only 10 milligrams [3/1,000ths of an ounce], they can use surface tension to walk on water. Their legs are covered with tiny grooved hairs that repel water and trap air to enable this feat. Their rowing motion takes only 1/100th of a second, so scientists must study it with high-speed cameras. Scientists use “flow visualization” – that is, adding...

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