Friday, August 2, 2013

Bumblebee Flight Does Not Violate the Laws of Physics

Myth: Bumblebee’s shouldn’t be able to fly.

bumblebeeThere’s an oft repeated “fact” that the humble bumblebee defies all known laws of physics every time it flaps its tiny little bee wings and ascends to the sky. Now obviously this is false, since, well, bumblebees fly all the time and if every time a bee took off it was tearing physics apart, we’d probably realize that was the case when two thirds of our population disappeared after being pulled into tiny, bee-shaped black holes. And, certainly if this was the case, every physicist dreaming of a Nobel Prize would be devoting all their time to breaking the code of bumblebee flight in order to disprove some bit of our understanding of physics.  That being said, if you work out the math behind the flight of the bumblebee, you’ll find that it actually shouldn’t be able to fly… so long as you don’t take into account all the relevant factors, which seems to be how this myth got started.  Basically, if you calculate it all assuming bumblebees fly like airplanes, then sure, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly. But, of course, bumblebees don’t fly like airplanes.

So where and when did this myth start? The often repeated story goes that many years ago an engineer and a biologist were having dinner and a few drinks, after the topic of conversation turned to each person’s respective field. The biologist asked the engineer to work out how a bee flew- scientists partied wicked hard back in those days. The engineer, keen to show off his skills, quickly jotted down a few calculations and came to the conclusion, that holy crap, a bee shouldn’t be able to fly.
For the rest of the story:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...