Disordered Stick Bombs

“… A steady state hysteresis caused by reversible slippage”: There are passages in this article about the study of bird nests that read for me like poetry written in the language of physics.

One effort to disentangle the structural dynamics of the nest is underway in the sunny yellow lab — the Mechanical Biomimetics and Open Design Lab — of Hunter King, an experimental soft-matter physicist at the University of Akron in Ohio.

“We hypothesize that a bird nest might effectively be a disordered stick bomb, with just enough stored energy to keep it rigid,” Dr. King said. He is the principal investigator of an ongoing study, with a preliminary review paper, “Mechanics of randomly packed filaments — The ‘bird nest’ as meta-material,” recently published in the Journal of Applied Physics. (He added that, obviously, the bird-nest stick bomb never explodes.)

I think of my friend who loves birds, beauty berry bushes, curious pursuits, and, like me, wry and resonant turns of phrase. These are among the passions that perk us up in unsteady states.

(Siobhan Roberts, “Why Birds Are the World’s Best Engineers,” NYTimes, 3-17-20)

(c) 2020 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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