Sunday, 24 October 2010

My dog Punch urges more coverage for science

When the kind soul gave me Punch as a pup, after the tragic death of Chunky the bull terrier when he jumped out of the moving car in his eagerness to get to the restaurant for breakfast, he was described as being an American bull terrier. Now that I have Miss Polly, a real American bull dog, I am beginning to think the vet was right when she told me that I now had a very fit and active pit bull that many South Australians wrongly described because of fear that the authorities would declare them illegal.
Punch is a rather strong willed and physically strong fellow so when he told me I should be giving more coverage on my blog to matters of real scientific importance I was inclined to take notice. Hence today's coverage of the research by Andrew Dickerson, a graduate student at Georgia Tech on how fast different animals "oscillate their bodies to shed water droplets."
National Public Radio reports that for his study called "The Wet-Dog Shake," which appeared in the journal Fluid Dynamics, Dickerson and his colleagues slowed down images of animals — dogs, a bear, even a mouse — shaking themselves dry. The footage was shot with a high-speed video camera.

The researchers found that both bears and dogs shake at a similar speed — around 4 Hz and 4-5 Hz, respectively. In this case, hertz refers to the frequency of skin oscillations per second. And it turns out that the smaller the animal, the faster it has to shake to dry. Thus, a cat can get by with shaking around 6 Hz. But its nemesis, the mouse, requires 27 Hz to dry off.
Punch told me he found that far more interesting than what I write about Australian politics.
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