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How the elephant grabs with its trunk

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GFSW01 - Form and deformation in solid and fluid mechanics

Elephants feed on food items using a flexible yet heavy trunk.  In this talk, we report experiments from Zoo Atlanta showing how the trunk can be used to manipulate both small to large food items.  For smallest items, the elephant creates kinks in its trunk which enables the elephant to the trunk's weight to jam piles of particles together. Larger items can be grabbed using air suction, whereby the elephant generates air flows rivaling the speed of the human sneeze.  The heaviest items are grabbed by wrapping the trunk and lifting with the elephant's head, using the trunk as a lever.  A series of simple robots demonstrate how elephant-inspired principles can aid in picking up objects.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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