27 November 2010

Hummingbirds! ~ Beautiful Aeronautical Animal

Thanks to the Economist's Babbage for The Difference Engine: Big Flap spotting Hummingbirds...
"To someone schooled in classical aerodynamics, the sight of hummingbirds hovering to refuel on the wing never ceases to astonish. Their mechanics of flight seem to defy the laws of physics. They are true masters of stationary flight and can even fly backwards -- the only birds able to do so. [...] To get the extra lift needed for hovering, hummingbirds do not simply flap their wings up and down, but oscillate them through a figure of eight pattern. By angling their bodies near to the vertical, the lift-generating vortices are thrust straight down beneath them. The hummingbird is literally buoyed on a vertical jet of air, with its head held stationary as it uses its long bill to feed."
The article goes on to discuss man-made ornithopters. But I wanted to see more of the real thing. Thankfully, on the 'Tube we have this Behind the Scenes of "Hummingbirds" by PBS NATURE!

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