Sharks, Geometry, and Optimization

Published by patrick honner on

Whale SharkSome recent research sheds light on the interesting mathematics of how whale sharks move through the ocean.

Covering vast empty spaces between resources forces the shark to be natural optimizers when it comes to energy usage.  For example, due to its natural negative buoyancy, the shark tends to sink in the ocean, meaning that ascending through the water requires greater energy expenditure.

In order most efficiently move through the water, the shark naturally gravitates to two general kinds of ascents.  According to the article, the two techniques are a low-angle ascent that tends to minimize energy expenditure per unit of ascent, and a steep ascent that tends to maximizes the vertical change per unit energy.

It’s no surprise that nature is full of optimizers.  Making the most of your resources goes a long way to survival!

You can read the full article here.

Categories: Application

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York

1 Comment

Ahmed Gouda · December 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm

This reminds me of how trees don’t just grow randomly, but actually grow their branches and leaves based on the best positioning to make leaves to absorb sunlight and what not.

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