By immersing a compliant yet self-supporting sheet into flowing water, we study a heavy, streamlined, and elastic body interacting with a fluid. We find that above a critical flow velocity a sheet aligned with the flow begins to flap with a Strouhal frequency consistent with animal locomotion. This transition is subcritical. Our results agree qualitatively with a simple fluid dynamical model that predicts linear instability at a critical flow speed. Both experiment and theory emphasize the importance of body inertia in overcoming the stabilizing effects of finite rigidity and fluid drag.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)