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Mexican Waves Beat Rowing Crew

Jülich biophysicists decipher movement of cilia

Jülich 5 March 2013 – Many people will recall Paramecia from your school biology lessons. These single-cell organisms are propelled rapidly in water by their roughly 10,000 cilia distributed evenly over the surface of the cell and acting like tiny oars rowing the animalcules. Jülich biophysicists have discovered why these cilia move according to a certain pattern in liquids. They generate a self-organized wave reminiscent of the Mexican waves in football stadiums. The results have now been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

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