Sunday SciKu | Butterfly Wings

In science news this week, researchers at the University of Lund put a butterfly in a wind tunnel for the first time to study the aerodynamics of their flight. It’s often been assumed that their flat floppy wings were an inefficient way to fly, but nature is often more than what it seems.

It turns out that the clapping action of their wings shoots a jet of air backward, propelling them 28% faster than they’d be able to fly otherwise. Yes, like jetpacks!

These short bursts of irregular motion make them much more difficult to catch as prey for swooping birds. Predicting where the butterfly will be as they strike is like a batter trying to hit a knuckleball. Which should be no surprise—baseball players like Willie Stargell have long compared hitting the pitch to catching a butterfly with tweezers.
It’s another great lesson from nature about the quality of our assumptions.

 

bobbing butterfly—
answers to the question
of one hand clapping

 

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