October 27, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Snails Walk on Water

Why is that scientist staring at a snail?  He’s watching a miracle: walking on water.  This is not our exaggeration: Matt Kaplan on National Geographic News entitled his article, “How Snails Walk on Water Is a Small Miracle.”  If we can figure out the trick, we might be able to make little robots do it – even if we don’t know why we would want to yet, other than it would be cool.
    Snails are small enough to be naturally buoyant, but needless to say, getting traction on water is a challenge.  The snail apparently does this by making small ripples.  The ripples are just the right size to give the snail traction without breaking the surface.  It’s a unique method of propulsion unknown till Eric Lauga, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California, San Diego, decided to investigate.
    For a human to do this would require shoes as big as a football field, the article said.

  Many capabilities of animals and plants seem miraculous to us, but we sometimes use the word too carelessly.  Jesus walked on water barefoot or on sandals.  That’s a real miracle.

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