Seashell Shapes Show Strength For Safety




This is Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Cynthia Graber. Got a minute?
Scientists have been looking to nature for inspiration for materials with useful properties.
Insect exoskeletons and shark skin are examples of materials that exhibit strength, durability, and less wind and water drag.
They're also looking at natural construction that could inform our own design projects.
In that arena, researchers recently focused on the shape and structure of seashells.
In a new study, they report on the properties of two types of shells collected from a sea shore in southern India: a bivalve with a typical clamshell-style shell, and a screw-type shell belonging to a turbinate.
The scientists performed a detailed analysis of the structures and the ways in which they respond to stresses at various locations.
They determined that the bivalve distributes force along the outer edge of the shell to protect the soft body inside.
The screw-shaped shell keeps force directed at large rings while the soft body stays within the smaller rings.
The two shell shapes can survive loads nearly double that which could be withstood by a simple sphere or cylinder.
The study is in the journal Science Advances.
So if you wind up driving a shell-shaped car someday, it'll be both stylish and designed to protect the soft bodies inside.
Thanks for the minute, for Scientific American 60-Second Science. I'm Cynthia Graber.