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

changing fluid structure of the wake generated by the bat's flapping wings and details of the wing motion, which "allows us to link the effect (the generated aerodynamic forces) with the cause (the actual motion of the wing) for the first time," Hubel says. The studies revealed that a vortex is generated at the tip of the bat's wing during the first third of its downstroke, then grows stronger, before dissipating during the latter half of the upstroke (with the wing beat cycle defined by the tip position). The vortex indicates that the bat's wings are generating lift; that the vortex dissipates, she says, shows that there is a part of the bat's flapping cycle when its wings are producing no lift at all--a pattern that is similar to that seen in small birds.

Hubel's talk, "Wake structure and wing motion in bat flight," is at 4:36 pm on Sunday, November 23, 2008, in Room 103B of the San Antonio Convention Center. Abstract:


The development of technologically sophisticated yet tiny aircraft--or micro air vehicles (MAV)--is a hot engineering topic, with researchers seeking new ways to add functional abilities to the craft. For example, says Humberto Bocanegra Evans, a graduate student in experimental fluid dynamics at New Mexico State University, "the creation of an MAV that has hovering capabilities would be of great help in reconnaissance missions into hostile territories or for the inspection of sites where human access is limited."

To explore the dynamics of hovering, Bocanegra Evans and his colleagues have focused on an animal that has perfected the technique: the hummingbird. He and his colleagues constructed a large scaled model of a rufous hummingbird, a common hummingbird species. In real life, the birds are about 3-4 inches long with a 4-inch

Contact: Jason Bardi
American Institute of Physics

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