Posts tagged ‘impossible’

Bumblebee Flight is Not Scientifically Impossible

By Terry D. Johnson

The myth that bumblebee flight is scientifically impossible persists today. Even some presidential hopefuls believe it. Don’t be fooled. This tale’s been floating around since the 1930s, back when aerodynamics was emerging from a science.

Various luminaries in the field of fluid dynamics have been accused of popularizing the idea, which seems to have originated in a collaboration between French entomologist Antoine Magnan and his assistant, the mathematician André Sainte-Laguë. Sainte-Laguë had done a primitive calculation on the aerodynamics of bumblebee flight, assuming that the wings we perfectly smooth and flat. They also ignored more complicated aerodynamics in favor of a simpler model.

These assumptions made the calculation easier…and the answer wrong. Magnan himself wrote: “One shouldn’t be surprised that the results of the calculations don’t square with reality.” That didn’t stop the myth from achieving enough lift to take off.

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Source: Wikipedia, Naturenet

Image: Wikimedia (gnu)

August 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments


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