The Penis’s Hydrostatic Skeleton (possibly NSFW)

Here’s the question: increasing fluid pressure inside a penis makes it enlarge, but what makes it inflexible? Not a lot of people have the…uh…inspiration to explore this area with scientific rigor. Fortunately, Diane Kelly happened upon the necessary inspiration and she shared her insights at TEDMED.

Predictably, a lot of the comments on this video are of the base “Bevis and Butt-head” variety*. Ignoring that, you see the importance of this work. A lot of prior research has been devoted to making the walls of hydrostatic structures flexible. Whether it’s the skin of a swimming shark, the reinforcement of a garden hose, or structure of a tunnel, most of the concern centers on giving the wall flexibility so that it won’t buckle under stress. What Dr. Kelly teaches us is that looking at rigidity can be just as important…or, in the area of biology, critical.

* I couldn’t help but laugh when I noticed the rhinos at 3:37 have iconic black tape over their eyes so we can’t ID them.

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