Physics at Virginia

"Rapid Motion in the Plant Kingdom: Nature's Weapons of Mass Reproduction."

Dwight Whitaker , Williams College
[Host: Jongsoo Yoon]
Plants and fungi have developed a number of remarkable methods to bring about rapid motion. The most rapid movements rely on stored elastic energy and take place in a timescale that is shorter than a single enzymatic reaction (~1 ms). Because these processes are entirely mechanical we can describe the motion with a straightforward biomechanical model based on classical mechanics. High-speed video lets us test the predictions of our models, which enable us to isolate the key features required for each type of movement and to assess how effectively the system performs. This information, when combined with field observations, helps us to understand the adaptive significance of the motion and put it into evolutionary context with similar species. In this talk we will present a number common plants that exhibit a variety of uncommon methods to disperse seeds and spores.
Condensed Matter Seminar
Thursday, August 31, 2006
4:00 PM
Physics Building, Room 204
Note special time.
Note special room.

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