One 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.
P. Paoletti and L. Mahadevan, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 698, 489-516, 2011. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
L. Mahadevan and E-H. Yong, Physics Today July 2011 66-67. [View PDF] [Download PDF]
T. Herrero-Ruiz, T. Fai, L. Mahadevan, Physical Review Letters 123, 038102, 2019. [DOI] [View PDF] [Download PDF]