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Bigger creatures live longer, travel farther for a reason
Date:8/24/2012

DURHAM, N.C. -- A long-standing mystery in biology about the longer lifespans of bigger creatures may be explained by the application of a physical law called the Constructal Law (www.constructal.org).

What this law proposes is that anything that flows -- a river, bloodstream or highway network -- will evolve toward the same basic configuration out of a need to be more efficient. And, as it turns out, that same basic law applies to all bodies in motion, be they animals or tanker trucks, says Adrian Bejan, the J.A. Jones Professor of mechanical engineering at Duke and father of the Constructal Law.

In his latest theory paper, appearing Aug. 24 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, Bejan argues that there is a universal tendency for larger things, animate and inanimate, to live longer and to travel further.

He starts his argument with an examination of the well-known observation in biology that larger animals tend to live longer. Bejan wanted to see if this general rule might apply to inanimate systems as well and proceeded to mathematically analyze the relationship in rivers, jets of air and vehicles.

He found, as a general rule, that bigger rivers are older and that larger jets of air, such as atmospheric jet streams, last longer. By his calculations, larger vehicles should also last longer, but hard evidence of that is lacking, he says, and there are outliers of course, like Subaru Justys with 300,000 miles.

By being larger and lasting longer, all of these systems also travel farther, he says.

If you look at a moving vehicle or animal simply as a mass in motion, that is, something flowing, "the spreading of the mass of vehicles and animals is completely analogous to the flow of water in river channels," Bejan says. "It is the same design."

Interestingly, if the body size and lifespan of known species of animals are plotted on a curve, it falls on a slope of about . And then, following
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Contact: Karl Leif Bates
karl.bates@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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