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Monday, December 10, 2007

How insects walk or bounce on water?

If you have ever wondered how insects walk or bounce on water, or skim across the surface of ponds, rivers and oceans, scientists have the answer. Insects like water striders have water repellent or superhydrophobic legs and they touch down at just the right speed not to sink. The researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea solved the mystery of how the insects jump onto or "bounce" off liquid surfaces by dropping a highly water-repellent sphere onto the surface of water at different speeds, carefully tracking its motion with high-speed cameras.

Footage revealed that the ball must have been traveling within a narrow range of velocities in order to bounce off the water's surface. The sphere may sink if it goes too fast and won't bounce back if it is too slow. The real thing is extraordinarily mobile. Some water striders can propel their bodies across the water surface at nearly 3.5 feet, or 100 times their body length, per second. A six-foot-tall human swimming at a comparable speed would achieve around 400 mph.

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