The maneuvers of flying insects are unmatched by even the best pilots, and this might be due to the fact that these critters don’t obey the same aerodynamic laws as airplanes, a team of New York University researchers has found.
“We’ve known for quite a while that the aerodynamic theory for airplanes doesn’t work so well in predicting the force of lift for flapping wings,” says Leif Ristroph, an assistant professor at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences who directed the study. “We found that the drag or wind resistance also behaves very differently, and we put together a new law that could help explain how insects move through the air.”
“To double its flight speed, an airplane must increase its thrust four-fold to counter the stronger wind resistance,” Ristroph explains in outlining the law. “In contrast, we found that flapping wings have a drag that is in direct proportion to its flight speed — to go twice as fast, an insect simply needs to double its thrust.” More. Paper. (paywall) – Natalie Agre, Stephen Childress, Jun Zhang, and Leif Ristroph. Linear drag law for high-Reynolds-number flow past an oscillating body. Physical Review Fluids, July 2016 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevFluids.1.033202
We must fire these dreadful insects and get ourselves other, more correct ones.
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