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“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Centipede


Some time ago, it was on the bridge over the klong (channel) to enter the Dutch embassy in Bangkok, I saw this creature walking.

Luckily I had my camera with me and could take this picture. I am not sure whether it is a he or she, so I will call it it.

Official name of this creature is centipede, sometimes called milipede, in English respectively hundred-feet or thousand-feet. It seems that there are many variants of it, smaller than this one, but also some are bigger, the biggest one found 30 cm. I guess the size of this one was 8-10 cm.


I do remember now, while I am writing, that a few years ago when I was in Indonesia for holiday, it was in Jakarta, just opposite of the house where I lived as a child, they had a kind of permanent market for flowers, living fish for aquarium, and there I saw a bucket with centipedes. These were of similar shape and size, but the feed were bigger. The owner played with them, put them on his body, and they crawled up and under his cloth, it made me shivering.

This one was walking rather fast, I guess 10 cm in 1-2 seconds, hence that is 360-720 m/h, on average 500 m/h. I have counted the number of segments: its about 55. Each section has 2 legs at the visible side (right), so I assume 2 at the other side (left) as well. Hence it has 4 x 55 = 220 legs, so the centipede name is better chosen than the milipede.

From the picture you can estimate the length of the legs. I measure 4 mm, while the total length of the centipede on the picture is 140 mm (in reality assume 100 mm), so the legs are 100 x 4/140 = 2.86 mm long. Now assuming that the legs motion (you can see the maximum angle on the picture) is 30 degrees forward and 30 degrees again backwards, then the step-size of one leg is 2.86 mm (because it is an equally sided triangle geometry).

Now comes the apocalypse of this story:

having 220 legs, each stepping 2.86 mm, makes that if all legs did one step, the centipede stepped 629 mm, or 0.629 m. Given that the speed is calculated as 500 m/h, it means that the centipede stepped 500 x 220 m/h = 110.000 m/h = 110 km/h.

Conclusion:

it is not a very efficient creation of nature, but an interesting creature.


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