The Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines presents “Geometry and Mechanics of Feet and Fins” by Madhusudhan Venkadesan of Yale University. The event will be held in the Marcus Nanotechnology Building, Rooms 1116-1118, from 12:15-1:15 p.m. and is open to the public.
The stiffness of propulsive appendages, such as feet and fins, is important in locomotory function. In this talk, I show that curvature-induced stiffness is the common principle underlying the stiffness of both primate feet and rayed fish fins. We use mathematical models, physical replicas, and biological experiments to arrive at this conclusion. The principle is evident in a drooping dollar bill that significantly stiffens upon slightly curling in the transverse direction.
Madhusudhan Venkadesan is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Yale University and studies the biomechanics and control of motor behavior in humans and other organisms. Problems being pursued include locomotion in animals, sun tracking in plants, and differential geometry of joints and nonequilibrium statistical mechanics of muscle. His lab also fabricates biologically inspired powered and passive devices to test the mathematical theories emanating from the biomechanical work. The motivation for—and application of—his work include biomedical sciences, evolutionary biology, robotics, and plain curiosity about everyday observations.