Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Bend and survive," by Victor Steinberg. Nature, 5 December 2002.

"The aim of aerodynamic design is to reduce the drag experienced by a body,such as a car, in a flowing medium, such as air. But what happens if the bodyis flexible and bends in response to the flow?" Steinberg summarizes "Dragreduction through self-similar bending of a flexible body," by Silas Alben,Michael Shelley and Jun Zhang, published in issue. The researchers'mathematical model couples hydrodynamics and the effects of bending and showsthat "the key to drag reduction is the creation of a 'self-similar' shape." TheNew York Times and the Boston Globe both reported on thefindings.

--- Annette Emerson