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2.4.3. Boundaries and Corners


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 2. Simple Science > 2.4. Science and Space > 2.4.3. Boundaries and Corners

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Boundaries and corners define things. They exist where one thing stops and another thing begins. The boundary is where interactions occur between the two things, such as electrolysis, oxidisation, refraction and other effects. Interactions may involve temperature, physical force, light, chemical reaction or any other energy system. Larger 2.4.3 Boundaries and Corners usually lead to larger interactive effects, such as when heat transfer is increased with the greater surface area of a heat exchanger’s fins.
The boundary may have different types of surface texture, being rough, smooth, hairy, feathery, jagged, and so on. Nature is pretty good at textures, most of which have highly evolved purposes, from the insulation of hair or feathers to the sharpness of the different kinds of teeth. We often copy these effects in our inventions, from the hollow fibres of insulating materials to grinding and cutting shapes.
Humans like flat surfaces and they appear everywhere in our world, but nature has little use for flatness as it is a very weak shape. If you compress a flat shape, it will either bend or break. We also like sharp corners, which nature avoids as it knows that this is a point of weakness. Squeeze a folded item and it will collapse and possibly fracture along the fold, especially if the fold has a sharp, clean edge. Put a smooth fairing into the corner and its strength will increase significantly.

Fig. 2.10 Strengthening corners

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