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OpenWorm: Initial full-worm body locomotion simulation

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Published on Dec 10, 2013

OpenWorm - http://openworm.org

Prototype simulation of C. elegans swimming locomotion for the OpenWorm project running in the Sibernetic engine (www.sibernetic.org). We use a modification of known fluid mechanics techniques (SPH) to simulate the organism and its muscle contractions.

The worm shell was designed by Andrey Palyanov. The Sibernetic engine was designed by Andrey Palyanov and Sergey Khayrulin. The swimming locomotion was tuned and implemented by Mike Vella.

In this early simulation there are a few things to note:

1. The entire simulation lasts for 0.265s of real time. This took 47h (Quad-core intel CPU) to compute.

2. For the initial 10% of simulation the worm is "falling" into the liquid below it.

3. The liquid is too shallow, and the worm therefore struggles to make significant progress, (undulatory thrust is limited by the depth of the water).

4. The contraction waves appear to travel down the worm body with a velocity which is too high (compared to videos of real C. elegans). The forces of contraction are possibly also too high.

5. Fascinating fluid mechanical effects can be observed around the whole body of the worm as it swims.

6. This simulation does not yet incorporate electrophysiology of muscles and all muscle contraction is precisely pre-determined by an analytic formula found in this program.

I will re-emphasise that this is still a prototype, some more work needs to be done to find simulation parameters (for the worm body,behaviour and environment). Nonetheless, I believe we are now in a position to begin to test scientific hypotheses relating to C.elegans.

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