Birds are the best engineers The term “bird’s nest” has come to describe a messy hairdo, tangled fishing line and other unspeakably knotty conundrums. But that does birds an injustice. Their tiny brains produce marvels that have long captured scientific interest as naturally selected engineering solutions. One effort to disentangle the structural dynamics of the nest is underway in the lab of Hunter King , an experimental soft-matter physicist at the University of Akron in Ohio . “We hypothesise that a bird nest might effectively be a disordered stick bomb, with just enough stored energy to keep it rigid,” King said. King and his colleagues seek to answer simple questions: What is the underlying mechanical principle behind the bird nest’s construction strategy? What are the statistically robust characteristics of “the nest state”? That is to say, what separates a nest from the same sticks and twigs collected into a tight bundle or scattered helter-skelter?
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