Star-shaped bubbles and cubic feces: geometry through soft matter
Lee, Alexander Bo-Ping
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In this thesis, we consider how mammals use soft tissue to generate geometric shapes out of non-living materials. The star-nosed mole sniffs for prey underwater by rapidly exhaling and inhaling bubbles without letting the bubbles pinch off. The bare-nosed wombat forms cubic feces, displaying 6 flat sides and 8 rounded corners. We develop mathematical models supported by simple table-top experiments to better understand how these mammals accomplish such amazing feats. These species control the fluids through interactions with solid tissue. Understanding these interactions could lead to innovations in chemical sensing and manufacturing.