Monthly Archives: October 2011

Welcome EK132 students

Tomorrow starts a new EK131/132 cycle, with a renewed cohort of freshmen starting their exploration of “Bio-Aerial Locomotion”. Welcome new students! To start, you probably want to find out more about what this course is about. You’ll find that in my Welcome to “Bio-aerial Locomotion” blog post. You’ll notice that it says that you will be […]

Solving the Mystery of the V

When you look up in the sky you just may happen to see a group of birds flying  in a V formation. But have you ever wondered why they do this? Its not because the “Mighty Ducks” told them to stick together or because it is just a random coincidence, it actually has a purpose. […]

Flying in Circles

Thousands of years ago, early hunters discovered that a single bend in a piece of wood gave it some interesting aerodynamics properties. Tossed vertically, a boomerang will fly in a loop, returning to its thrower. How is such a seemingly simple object able to move through the air so remarkably? When we examine the boomerang […]

Hummingbird’s Wake

One of my favorite things about spring and summer is lying in an open field watching the clouds go by. Every once and a while a plane will go by leaving an enormous wake of what looks like white clouds behind it. Only recently did I learn that these cloud trails are caused by vortexes of […]

It’s a bird. No it’s an insect. No, wait, its a hummingbird!

When we are young, we classify everything into very black and white catagories. What is a bird? Orginally, our response was a tiny flying animal with feathers and wings. However, that description is astronomically incorrect. Birds do not have to be small. The largest flying bird, the Argentavis, (extinct as of 2009) has a wingspan […]