The Science of Sponges: Understanding their Function and Behavior

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In summary, sponges work through a phenomenon called wetting, which is not well understood. Modeling sponges in microgravity is challenging due to the lack of an equilibrium surface. There may be some clues to understanding sponge behavior by studying the transpiration stream of plants. Further research on wetting physics may provide more insights into how sponges operate.
  • #1
How do sponges work? Are they trivial? Do they depend on atmospheric pressure to operate? What is the behavior of a sponge in a gravitational field i.e. how does this effect the soaking of water 'uphill'? If sponges are non-trivial than I would be curious to see attempts at modeling them.
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  • #2
Sponges work via wetting, which is a poorly-understood physical phenomenon.

Modeling sponges (or soil, a more relevant problem) in microgravity is complicated by the fact that there is no equilibrium surface, so there is no obvious way to define a minimum energy.

Look up any work on percolation, soil drainage, flow in porous media, etc.
  • #3
This is an interesting question.I think surface tension comes into it the water rising up through narrow capillaries in the sponge.Some clues might be gained by looking at the transpiration stream of plants.
  • #4
Thank you for the responses, now I am able to find many results for 'wetting physics' along the lines I was looking for such as this one:
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1. What makes sponges different from other sea creatures?

Sponges are unique because they are the simplest and most primitive type of multi-cellular animal. Unlike other sea creatures, they lack a defined digestive, nervous, or circulatory system. Instead, they have specialized cells that perform different functions, such as capturing food or removing waste.

2. How do sponges feed?

Sponges are filter feeders, meaning they use specialized cells called choanocytes to capture food particles from the water. These cells have hair-like structures called flagella that create a current to bring in water and food. The food particles are then trapped in the sponge's internal spaces and digested.

3. Do sponges have any predators?

Yes, sponges have several predators in their marine environment, including fish, sea slugs, and sea stars. Some sponges also have chemical defenses to deter predators, while others rely on their ability to quickly regenerate if damaged.

4. How do sponges reproduce?

Sponges have a unique ability to reproduce both sexually and asexually. Asexual reproduction occurs through fragmentation, where a piece of the sponge breaks off and grows into a new individual. Sexual reproduction involves the release of sperm and eggs into the water, where fertilization takes place, and a larval form is produced.

5. What role do sponges play in the marine ecosystem?

Sponges play a vital role in the marine ecosystem as filter feeders and habitat providers. They help to improve water quality by filtering out particles and nutrients, and they provide shelter and food for many other marine organisms. Additionally, sponges are being studied for their potential medicinal properties and their ability to absorb and store carbon, making them important for climate regulation.

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