Carnegie Mellon Engineering

MechE Seminar Series: "Ant rafts, the ideal eyelashes, and the Ig Nobel Prize"

March 24, 1:00 p.m.
100 Porter Hall

Mechanical Engineering Seminar Series

David Hu
Georgia Tech


Fluid mechanics can show up in surprising places.  In the depths of the wetlands of Brazil, fire ants link their bodies together to form waterproof rafts.  These rafts are both liquid and solid, able to safely bounce off rocks or flow through branches.  When I first saw my daughter's eye-lashes, I wondered why they were so long.  We measured the eyelash length of mammals and found a perfect eyelash ratio that reduces airflow to the eye.  When I was changing my son's dia-per, little did I know what happened next would lead me to the Ig Nobel Prize at Harvard Uni-versity.  In this talk, I'll discuss how to turn chance observations into opportunities for world-wide engagement with science.


Dr. David Hu is a mechanical engineer who studies the interactions of animals with water.  He has discovered how dogs shake dry, how insects walk on water, and how eyelashes protect the eyes from drying. He was awarded the 2015 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics, and defended basic research in a Sci-entific American article, “Confessions of a wasteful scientist.”.  Originally from Rockville, Maryland, he earned degrees in mathematics and mechanical engi-neering from M.I.T., and is now Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Georgia Tech.  His work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, and Highlights for Children.  He is an editorial board member of Nature Scientific Reports and The Journal of Experimental Biolo-gy.  He lives with his wife Jia and children Harry and Heidi in Atlanta, Geor-gia.  He receives letters about urination on a daily basis.