- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
ScienceShot: Curves Are Tough on the Bones
20 November 2012 7:30 pm
Simple engineering analyses that estimate bone strength may yield overly optimistic results, a new study suggests. Leg bones must withstand the compressive stresses imposed by an animal's weight. But if the bones are curved—as leg bones often are, even if only slightly—they also sustain bending stresses that result when weight isn't precisely centered on the bone's cross section. To see how bone curvature might affect bone strength estimates, researchers analyzed the leg bones of eight species, from the 220-gram Senegal bushbaby to the 1.2-metric-ton giraffe. They relied on the same sort of high-tech computer models that aerospace engineers use to analyze stresses induced in aircraft parts during flight. (Shown here is the model of a femur of Erinaceus europaeus, the European hedgehog, alongside a version that shows stresses induced by bending; red areas denote high stresses.) Incorporating stresses from bone curves put the bone under about 1.4 times more stress than it would experience if the bones were considered to be simple straight beams, the researchers report online today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The strategy might be especially useful in reconstructing animals that are extinct, such as dinosaurs. Overestimating the strength of a dinosaur's leg bones by ignoring the effects of bone curvature may, in turn, mean overestimating how much weight those bones could have supported. Turns out, large dinos like Tyrannosaurus rex and the lumbering sauropods might have been somewhat slimmer than previously believed.
See more ScienceShots.