Hairy wetsuits may revolutionize surfing

- Surfers have relied on wetsuits to keep them warm for decades, but now scientists at MIT have designed a new synthetic fur to mimic how semiaquatic mammals, like beavers & sea otters, stay warm.

Wetsuits are inspired by the extra layers of blubber that sleek-skinned whales and seals use to keep warm, but surfers have closer habits to the furry animals that spend their days jumping in and out of cold water.

Anette Hosoi, a mechanical engineering professor at MIT said, “"Surfers, who go in and out of the water, want to be nimble and shed water as quickly as possible when out of the water, but retain the thermal management properties to stay warm when they are submerged."

The bioinspired experiments focused on the spacing and size of individual hairs in determining how much air a surface can trap. The air pockets captured by the hairs resulted in increased insulation.

Researchers are now working on testing different designs, but the creation of a lighter-weight suit with improved insulation could revolutionize the world of surfing while making your beaches a bit hairier in the process.  

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