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Shape and Dolphins



It is not surprising that shape has a lot to do with the movement and speed of objects, but it may be surprising that dolphins pose such a question to researchers when it comes to their advanced swimming techniques. The shape of an object can determine numerous factors of an object that are integral to its performance. For example, race-cars are built with a specific shape in order to produce high amounts of downforce while airplaines are built with their wings in order to create lift when piercing through the air. Downforce is produced by channeling air above a specific shape, causing the air resistance to have a small impact on overall speed, but have a significant impact on providing a force down on the object. Lift is the opposite, as airplanes are designed to channel air underneath the wings in order to keep the plane steady in the air, as gravity and the generated lift can hopefully come close to canceling each other out. Since air resistance is related to the velocity of the object, lift and downforce rely on the velocity of an object as well. The faster an object is traveling, the more air being channeled over/under the object and the higher the resulting force. This is why it is even potentially dangerous to go at lower speeds in an airplane or F1 racecar. 

Dolphins travel quite fast through the water compared to their complexion, making researchers wonder why they are such fast swimmers. Although not all of the answers have been found, it has been discovered that dolphins reduce drag throughout the water by shedding their outer layer of skin every few hours. Again, people are still not sure why this process would be beneficial, but it is quite cool nonetheless.Another important aspect of a dolphin's complexion is its tail fin. This fin is slightly curved in order to provide a greater thrust than a flat fin when stroking through the water, helping the dolphin obtain high speeds. 

It is pretty cool that dolphins pose such a big mystery to physicists and biologists alike as they swim more efficiently than what seems possible, making them able to stump humans. 


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