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Posts Tagged "flight"

Food Matters

Variolation, Aviation, and Genetic Modification: Progress in the Face of Fear and Danger

The Wright Brothers' Plane (click for source)

In 1721, a small pox epidemic was ripping through the colonial city of Boston. Cotton Mather, a Reverend and Royal minister, convinced the physician Zebadiah Boylston to perform an arcane medical procedure on two slaves and Mather’s own son. The procedure, called “variolation,” involved piercing the skin of the patient with needle that was contaminated [...]

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Guest Blog

Technology Unlocks the Mysteries of Bird Flight

These bald ibises are keeping careful track of the wingflaps of the birds around them—and timing their own to catch upwash—enabling them to maximize energy savings while flying long distances. (Credit: Markus Unsold, Waldrappteam)

Bob Dylan asked: “Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?” Sure, this is a metaphor (in Dylan’s case, for a lost love) but it works because the complexities of avian flight—from migration and navigation to group dynamics—have long been a mystery, one with a preponderance of ideas, but few firm answers. Of course, [...]

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Guest Blog

What Is a Drone, Anyway?

Launching a Puma drone

At a time when drone aircraft have become a daily feature of the news and are about to proliferate in U.S. airspace, it’s a good idea to take a step back and examine a very basic and very important question: What, exactly, is a drone? The answer turns out to be more complex than might [...]

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Guest Blog

Flying in the Coffin Corner–Air France Flight 447

When Air France Flight 447 disappeared in June 2009, it was in the middle of the tropical Atlantic and had likely entered a mesoscale convective complex, a system of strong thunderstorms thought to have been at least four storms deep along 447′s flight path. Flight 447 was also flying at a cruise altitude of 35,000 [...]

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Flying ophidians! Physicists uncover how snakes soar between trees [Video]

flying snake glide physics

Some snakes don’t need to be on a plane to take flight. The "flying" snake (or paradise tree snake, Chrysopelea paradisi) launches its sleek frame into the ether from precipitously tall trees in Asia and sails downward. This seemingly strange behavior—particularly for an animal that has no limbs or skin flaps itself—has been long known, [...]

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