Designing structures and devices that protect the human body from shocks and vibrations during high-velocity impacts is a universal challenge. Scientists and engineers focusing on this challenge try to understand and replicate or improve on anti-shock mechanisms found in nature. The woodpecker stands out in this field of study: it can peck trees at high frequency (up to 25 Hz) and high speed (up to 7 m/s and 1200 g deceleration) without suffering any brain injury. So how can woodpecker anatomy help improve anti-shock devices?
A research team led by Tuomas Tallinen (Department of Physics and Nanoscience Center, University of Jyvaskyla), Jun Young Chung and Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan (Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University) is studying the folded structure of the human brain. Their findings published in Nature Physics indicate that the convoluted structure can be attributed to mechanical compression. A 3D-printed model was used by the researchers to support their theory.