Mechanics of skeletal muscles
Friday, October 23, 2015 - 4:15pm - 4:55pm
By dealing repeatedly with subjects apparently outside the domain of ‘respectable’ mechanics, Jerry Ericksen succeeded in opening remarkable new research directions that ended up dominating the field. Does biology have a chance to become one of such subjects? In support of this guess, we discuss an intriguing mechanical response of skeletal muscles. Most strikingly, muscles apparently operate in a regime with negative stiffness, they tighten up when shortened and get loose when stretched, but this does not lead to strain localization. Behind this behavior is as much the intricate internal architecture with domineering long range interactions as the anti-dissipative internal activity fueled by consumption of metabolic products. The mathematical description of these and other similar effects at cellular level is emerging and their understanding promises a paradigm change in the design of advanced materials and devices.