Rarely in our visions of the future do people have to make long landings, or fly on commercial jet liners. Seems like they’ve always advanced past that.
Here in the present, we don’t seem to be making much headway in really crazy transportation breakthroughs — not much sign of beaming or stargates — but some scientists are considering some novel ways to improve air travel by copying our friends the birds.
OK, maybe “friends” is a little strong for describing our relationship to the last living dinosaurs, but nonetheless, with the ability to hover, stop on a dime, and fly with impressive energy efficiency, birds offer researchers a great deal of inspiration for improving aircraft.
At the 63rd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Long Beach, Calif. Last weekend, Geoffrey Spedding of the University of Southern California and Joachim Huyssen of Northwestern University in South Africa presented research offering a more birdlike wing and tail design that could reduce drag and therefore improve efficiency.