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Animal and biological science highlights: San Antonio Fluid Dynamics Conference, Nov. 23-25

November 13, 2008 -- From dolphins to clams to flying creatures like hummingbirds and bats, many of nature's most fascinating creatures exhibit forms of fluid flow. When the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics takes place from November 23-25 at the San Antonio Convention Center, researchers from across the globe will describe cutting-edge research with applications in astronomy, engineering, alternative energy, biology, and medicine.

Reporters are invited to attend the conference free of charge. Registration instructions and other information may be found at the end of this news release. Several highlights from the more than 1,500 presentations at the meeting are listed below.

1) Wind-Tunnel Studies Reveal Bat Flapping Secrets
2) Robotic Hummingbird Offers Insight into Hovering Flight
3) Dolphin Swimming Mystery Solved with Digital Imaging Technique
4) Engineers Unearth the Digging Secrets of Burrowing Clams
5) Are Flexible, Flapping Flying Machines in Our Future?
6) Modeling Embryonic Heart Development
7) Walkers' Wakes can Spread Germs in Airplanes


Flapping flight evolved at least four times in evolutionary history, in birds, insects, Pterosaurs, and bats. Of the four, bats have the most flexible wings, controlled with extremely complex motions that scientists are only just beginning to understand.

To study the kinematics of bat flight, biologist Tatjana Hubel, a postdoctoral research scholar at Brown University, and her colleagues trained Lesser dog-faced fruit bats (Cynopterus brachyotis) to fly in a low-speed wind tunnel. As the bats flew, six high-speed cameras monitored both the motion of their wings and the air wake created by their flapping.

The researchers were able to simultaneously monitor the

Contact: Jason Bardi
American Institute of Physics

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