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Sharks, Geometry, and Optimization

This article discusses the findings of some recent research into 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.  The article suggests that these techniques are essentially a low-angle ascent, that would tend to minimize energy expenditure per unit of ascent, and a steep ascent that would tend 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.

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  1. 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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