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Home page > Nature & Technology > Dolphin, Sound and Sonar Technology
19.05.05
DOLPHIN, SOUND WAVES and SONAR
Nature & Technology

From a special organ known as the melon in a dolphin's head, it transmits as many as 200,000 sound waves a second. Simply by moving its head, this creature is able to transmit the waves in the direction it wishes. When the sound waves strike a solid object, they are reflected and return to the dolphin, the bottom of whose jaw acts as a receiver. The sound waves received are sent first to the inner ear, and from there to the brain. Thanks to the enormous speed at which these data are interpreted, very accurate and sensitive information is obtained. The sound waves let the dolphin determine the direction of movement, speed and size of the object that reflects them.

The dolphin's wave-interpretation system is so effective that it can even follow one particular fish from among an entire school. It can also distinguish between two separate metal coins, three kilometers away in the pitch dark.

In the present day, the instrument known as SONAR70 is used to identify targets and their directions for ships and submarines. These sonars work on exactly the same principle as that employed by the dolphin.

Prof. Roman Kuc

At Yale University, a robot was developed to be used for exploration purposes. Roman Kuc, a professor and electronic engineer equipped the robot with a sonar system imitating the one used by dolphins. Despite his success, Professor Kuc, who spent 10 years working on ultrasonic receivers and robot technology, admitted, “We decided to take a closer look at how echolocation is used in nature to see if we might be missing something.”

Imagine that someone told you that under the sea, sound waves travel at 1,500 meters a second; then asked you to calculate, if your submarine sent out sound waves that came back in four seconds' time, how far away was the object that reflected them.

You would calculate that the object is three kilometersaway. Dolphins are also capable of comfortably performing similar calculations, but they know neither the speed at which their sound waves travel through the water, nor how to multiply and divide. They don't carry out any of these functions; all the animals do is behave the way God inspires them.

 

Submarines And The Dolphin

The shuttle-shaped body structure of dolphins earns them the ability to move very swiftly in water. Scientists discovered yet another feature that plays a big role in the swift movement of the fish:

The skin of the dolphin is made up of three layers. The outer layer is very thin and flexible. The inner layer is thick and made up of flexible hair which makes this layer look like a plastic-haired comb. The third layer in the middle is made of a sponge-like substance.

A sudden pressure likely to effect the rapidly swimming dolphin is cushioned as it is transmitted into the inner layers.

After a four-year research, German submarine engineers managed to make a synthetic coating with the same feature. This coating was made up of two rubber layers and between the layers were bubbles similar to the skin cells of the dolphin. A 250% increase in the speed of submarines was observed in those in which these coatings were used.

 




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