How to bet on snail races (and win!)

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Hey, we're not judging. If you want to spend your free time (and cash) betting on gastropod races down at the track, we're fine with that—we're just here to give you a tip. When inspecting the snails at the start line, make sure to put your dough on the least slimy creature. According to New Scientist magazine, researchers at MIT have modeled snail movement, and determined that part of the reason for this is that the mucus that snails and slugs generate has a truly unusual quality. Unlike most liquids, which either tend to have the same viscosity or a slightly greater viscosity when squeezed between two surfaces (ie. they either stay the same, or become marginally thicker and harder to pour), snail and slug mucus becomes considerably thinner when pressed against. And while I guess this sort of understanding could help us produce more efficient motor oils or lubricants in the future, the result in terms of gastropods is that slimier snails tend to work harder to move the same amount as their mucus-efficient peers. Link via the ever-entertaining New Scientist

Oh, and the cute (and slime-free) snail pictured above comes from here.

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September 8, 2006 - 6:52am
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