Monday, November 17, 2008

Flash Facts: Shortfin Mako Shark

Here's a Flash Fact that evokes both of my favorite comic book superheroes, a scientific tidbit appropriate for either a Flash or an Aquaman adventure! New Scientist is reporting that the shortfin mako shark, capable of swimming through the ocean at up to 50 miles per hour, may owe its incredible speed to the texture of its skin. "The sharks can raise their scales to create tiny wells across the surface of their skin, reducing drag like the dimples on a golf ball. The minute scales--just 200 micrometers long--are made from tough enamel, such as that found on teeth, giving the skin a rough texture like sandpaper. Lying flat, they had previously been found to reduce drag as the shark swims." Surely those distinctive orange scales on Aquaman's tunic accomplish a similar feat! Visit New Scientist for details on how a team at the University of Alabama investigated the phenomenon.

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