By Matin Durrani
If you’re a member of the Institute of Physics, it’s time to tuck into the November 2012 issue of Physics World, which is a special issue devoted to the facinating field of “animal physics”. It’s packed with a series of fascinating photos, videos and features on a selection of animals all of which have some interesting physics involved in their daily lives.
Read – and watch – how mosquitoes survive collisions with raindrops, find out why a certain species of hornet has a in-built solar cell, and listen to why lions – strange as it may seem – roar like babies. We also examine the age-old question of why zebras have stripes and ask whether cats and dogs drink in the same way.
Plus, we have a series of seven fabulous images each devoted to a particular animal with some amazing physics powers.
Members of the Institute of Physics (IOP) can access the entire new issue online free of charge through the digital edition of the magazine by following this link or by downloading the Physics World app onto an iPhone or iPad or Android device, available from the App Store and Google Play, respectively.
For the record, here’s a rundown of highlights of the issue.
• The industrial academy – IBM’s Zurich Research Centre opened its doors 50 years ago, quickly becoming one of the world’s top research institutions. But does it still live up to its illustrious past? Philip Ball reports
• The benefits of reaching out – Publicizing research is becoming more important as part of a physicist’s job. Pablo Jensen argues that rather than just take time away from research, outreach can actually foster it
• Primate physics – Having recently discussed in this column whether skateboarders and other athletes really “know” physics, here Robert P Crease wonders if primates do as well
• How the zebra got its stripes – Biophysicists are offering new clues to this age-old mystery, as Jon Cartwright reports
• Lapping it up – Cats are slow and elegant, dogs are quick and messy – but is the physics of their drinking all that different? Jon Cartwright reports
• Vespan voltage – Tushna Commissariat explains why Oriental hornets are masters of solar power
• Fly away home – Far from being “bird brained”, members of the avian family have an amazing array of techniques to help them navigate their way across vast oceans and continents. Mark Denny examines the physics of bird navigation
• Riding raindriops – Mosquitoes regularly collide with raindrops up to 50 times their own body mass and yet, remarkably, they live on to bite another victim. Stephen Ornes explains how scientists have figured out how these insects survive such a violent impact
• Walking on water – Why can pond skaters skip so effortlessly across water? Stephen Ornes explains how these creatures’ secrets were revealed using dyed water and a high-speed video camera
• Why lions roar like babies cry – When an angry lion roars, the sounds it emits can terrify anyone within earshot. But, as Ingo Titze explains, the properties of a lion’s roar have some surprising similarities with those of a crying baby
• A strange cat in Dublin’ – Cormac O’Raifeartaigh reviews Erwin Schrödinger and the Quantum Revolution by John Gribbin
• Soft matter’s charismatic pioneer – Tom McLeish reviews Pierre-Gilles de Gennes: a Life in Science by Laurence Plévert
• Starting from scratch – Mehdi Yazdanpanah describes how he turned his PhD research into a successful small business, despite starting off with just $500 in his bank account
• Consider a spherical cow – In this month’s Lateral Thoughts column, Margaret Harris wonders just what a spherical bovine animal would really be like
If you’re not yet a member, you can join the IOP as an imember for just £15, €20 or $25 a year via this link. Being an iMember gives you a full year’s access to Physics World both online and through the apps.