cardsOne of the pleasures of physics at the everyday scale is the challenge that every observation brings, sometimes quite literally, to the (kitchen) table. There are many such curiosities that we have spent ink on…  including such examples as the physics of opening envelopes, the paper cut and the guillotine, the hydrodynamics of writing (without a blot),    the tumbling of cards,  the elements of a drape, the crumpling of paper, the chaotic dripping faucet, the dynamics of avalanches in a salt cellar, the probability of heads in a coin toss, the curling of wet paper, the motion of a ruck in a rug and dislocation theory,  balancing on a  slackline, the fluid dynamics of Pollock’s paintings, etc. There are many such familiar, but nevertheless not well-understood phenomena, and  we continue to be fascinated by these simple puzzles that often hide general truths.

Like the everyday physical world, the everyday biological world is full of wonders – a walk through the garden full of flowers, a hike through the woods, a visit to the zoo, or many hours watching nature documentaries, including all made by (possibly) the most widely traveled human in history, David Attenborough.    We have worked on and played with a range of problems in this arena that include understanding how to create birdsong using a rubber tube that flutters when air is forced through it,  the dynamics of interdependent networks and the control of aging in such systems, the statistical nature of geometric intuition, etc.

See below for a smattering of studies that serve no purpose except perhaps to whet one’s curiosity.

Related Publications

The shape of a Möbius band Mahadevan, L., and J.B. Keller,  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A , 1440, 149-162, 1993. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Tumbling of a falling card Mahadevan, L. Comptes Rendus de l’Academie des Sciences, Paris, Series II , 323, 729-736, 1996.
Tumbling cards Mahadevan, L., W. Ryu, and A.D.T. Samuel,  Physics of Fluids , 11, 1-3, 1999. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Planar controlled gliding, tumbling and descent.
P. Paoletti and L. Mahadevan,  Journal of Fluid Mechanics,  698, 489-516, 2011.  [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Coiling of flexible ropes Mahadevan, L., and J.B. Keller,  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A, 1452, 1679-1694, 1996. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Fluid rope trick investigated Mahadevan, L., W. Ryu, and A.D.T. Samuel,  Nature391, 140, 1998. Corrigendum; ibid., 403, 502, 2000. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
How aphids lose their marbles, Pike, N., D. Richard, W. Foster and L. Mahadevan,  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series (B), Biological Sciences , 269, 1211-15, 2002. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Rolling droplets Mahadevan, L., and Y. Pomeau,  Physics of Fluids , 11, 2449-53, 1999. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Capillarity-induced zippering of a flexible train floating on an air-water interface, Vella, D., H-Y. Kim and L. Mahadevan,  Journal of Fluid Mechanics , 502, 89-98, 2004. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Hydrodynamical models for the chaotic dripping faucet, P. Coullet, L. Mahadevan and C. Riera,  Journal of Fluid Mechanics,  526, 1-17, 2005. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Persistence of a pinch in a pipe L. Mahadevan, A. Vaziri and M. Das,  Europhysics Letters , 77, 40003, 2007. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Balancing on tightropes and slacklines P. Paoletti and L. Mahadevan,  Journal of the Royal Society - Interface , 9, 2097-2108, 2012. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Settling and swimming of flexible fluid lubricated foils M. Argentina, J. Skotheim and L. Mahadevan,  Physical Review Letters , 99, 224053, 2007. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Hygromorphs: from pine cones to biomimetic bilayers E. Reyssat and L. Mahadevan,  Journal of the Royal Society, Interface , 6, 951-957, 2009. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Why subduction zones are curved L. Mahadevan, R. Bendick and H-Y. Liang,  Tectonics , 29,TC6002, 2010. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
How the cucumber tendril coils and overwinds S.J. Gerbode, J.R. Puzey, A.G. McCormick, L. Mahadevan,  Science  337, 1087, 2012. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Watching paint dry L. Mahadevan, Op-Ed,  The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal , 5, 64, 2012. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
How ticks get under your skin: insertion mechanics of the feeding apparatus of Ixodes ricinus ticks D. Richter, F-R. Matuschka, A. Spielman, and L. Mahadevan  Proceedings of the Royal Society B,  280, 20131758, 2013. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Crack street: the cycloidal wake of a cylinder ripping through a thin solid sheet,  Ghatak, A. and L. Mahadevan,  Physical Review Letters . 91, 215507, 2003. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Probability, geometry and dynamics in the toss of a thick coin. E-H. Yong, L. Mahadevan,   American Journal of Physics  79(12):1195-1201, 2011. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Controllable biomimetic birdsong A. Mukherjee, S. Mandre and L. Mahadevan,  Journal Royal Society Interface  14: 20170002, 2017. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Probability, physics, and the coin toss
L. Mahadevan and E-H. Yong,  Physics Today  July 2011 66-67.  [View PDF] [Download PDF]
How wet paper curls E. Reyssat and L. Mahadevan,  Europhysics Letters , 93, 54001, 2011. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Aging in complex interdependency networks D.C. Vural, G. Morrison, and L. Mahadevan,  Physical Review E  89, 022811, 2014. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
The organization and control of an evolving interdependent population D.C. Vural, A. Isakov, L. Mahadevan,  J. R. Soc. Interface  12: 20150044, 2015. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Optimal control of aging in complex networks E. Sun, T. Michaels, and L. Mahadevan, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 117, 20404-410, 2020. [ONLINE ARTICLE] [DOI] [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Dynamics of growth and form in prebiotic vesicles
T. Herrero-Ruiz, T. Fai, L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters 123, 038102, 2019. [DOI] [View PDF] [Download PDF]
Intermittent locomotion as an optimal control strategy P. Paoletti and L. Mahadevan,  Proceedings of the Royal Society (A) , 470, 20130535, 2014. [View PDF] [Download PDF]