Navigation Links
Scientist uses dragonflies to better understand flight

If mastering flight is your goal, you can't do better than to emulate a dragonfly. With four wings instead of the standard two and an unusual pitching stroke that allows the bug to hover and even shift into reverse, the slender, elegant insect is a marvel of engineering.

Z. Jane Wang, professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University, presented her research on flying systems and fluid dynamics today (Feb. 19) at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In a seminar "Falling Paper, Dragonfly Flight and Making a Virtual Insect," she said the best way to learn about flight is by first looking at what happens naturally.

Look at how such thin structures as falling paper move through a fluid environment like air, she said, and then examine how insects use their wings to manipulate that environment and stay aloft.

"The major question I focus on is the question of efficiency," Wang said in an interview. "It's the long-standing question: Of birds and planes, which is better? And if we think planes are better -- why?"

Conventional wisdom holds that airplanes (airfoils) are more efficient because they travel from point to point with no wasted up-and-down motion. "But there are infinitely many ways you can go up and down," said Wang. "Of all these paths, are any better than a straight line? Some are -- that's what I found."

The insight came from dragonflies.

"Dragonflies have a very odd stroke. It's an up-and-down stroke instead of a back-and-forth stroke," she said. "Dragonflies are one of the most maneuverable insects, so if they're doing that they're probably doing it for a reason. But what's strange about this is the fact that they're actually pushing down first in the lift.

"An airfoil uses aerodynamic lift to carry its weight. But the dragonfly uses a lot of aerodynamic drag to carry its weight. That is weird, because with airplanes you always think about minimi zing drag. You never think about using drag."

The next question, she said, is whether engineers can use these ideas to build a flapping machine as efficient as a fixed-wing aircraft.

Questions of size and feasibility remain. "To hover well or to fly for a long time is hard, especially at slow speeds," she said. "Power is limited. So finding these efficient motions is very important."

Still, Wang's work moves researchers a step closer to building such a machine.

"I want to build insects on a computer as a way of learning why almost all things that move in fluid use a flapping motion," said Wang. "Whether it's a fish which flips its fins or a bird, they're actually using the same principle.

"The way paper or leaves fall, and how insects fly, may give us some ideas about why animals use these methods at all," she said.


'"/>

Source:Cornell University News Service


Related biology news :

1. Scientists ID molecular switch in liver that triggers harmful effects of saturated and trans fats
2. Scientists Replicate Hepatitis C Virus in Laboratory
3. Scientists detect probable genetic cause of some Parkinsons disease cases
4. Scientists find missing enzyme for tuberculosis iron scavenging pathway
5. Scientists seek answers on what activates deadly anthrax spores
6. Yale Scientists Find MicroRNA Regulates Ras Cancer Gene
7. Scientists collaborate to assess health of global environment
8. Scientists decipher genome of fungus that can cause life-threatening infections
9. Scientists discover the cellular roots of graying hair
10. Scientists rid stem cell culture of key animal cells
11. Scientists develop new color-coded test for protein folding
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:2/5/2016)... 2016 http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/5kvw8m/global_facial ) ... "Global Facial Recognition Market 2016-2020" report ... ) has announced the addition of the ... report to their offering. --> ... announced the addition of the "Global ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... -- The field of Human Microbiome research and ... hubs of the biotechnology industry. While the Human ... human microbiota, have garnered a lot of attention ... has literally exploded in terms of both basic ... on biomedical aspects of research, development, and commercial ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... --> --> Fourth quarter 2015:   ... compared with fourth quarter of 2014. Gross margin was 46% ... Earnings per share increased to SEK 6.39 (loss: 0.49). ... , --> --> January ... (233.6), up 1,142% compared with 2014. Gross margin was 43% ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016  Spherix Incorporated (Nasdaq: ... fostering and monetization of intellectual property, today provided an ... in the Northern District of Texas ... Inter Partes Re-examination ("IPR") proceedings ... Office.  The IPR was initiated on only certain claims ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... SAN DIEGO , Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... medicine company with the first pluripotent stem cell-derived ... 1 diabetes in clinical-stage development, today announced that ... Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, have ... BetaLogics group into ViaCyte.  The agreement provides ViaCyte ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. , Feb. 3, 2016 ... 30 grants totaling more than $1 million for ... who are working on health-related research that demonstrates ... , this round of funding for the New ... available for faculty members at these educational institutions— ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 2016  Silk Therapeutics, Inc., today announced the closing of ... now raised a total of $10.25 million in Series A ... Series A2 round was led by existing investor The Kraft ... from new investors Lear Corporation and Highland Consumer Partners, as ... ; Richard Sackler , MD, with Summer Road, LLC; ...
Breaking Biology Technology: