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Snapping shrimp whip up a riot of bubbles

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4:02pm, August 26, 2003

High-speed video and fancy math have overturned an old theory about how snapping shrimp make such a racket.

By quickly closing oversized claws while defending their territory, clusters of certain shrimp produce enough noise to interfere with the Navy's sonar. But scientists didn't agree about how the small creatures make such a din, says Detlef Lohse of the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands. To make that snap, the shrimp squirt jets of water that form air bubbles, which then pop, Lohse, Michel Versluis, also of Twente, and their colleagues argue in the Sept. 22 Science.

Physicists refer to this bubble formation as cavitation, a process that can destroy ship propellers. "What I lik

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