Thursday, December 8, 2016

Obi the parrotlet helped researchers figure out how much lift birds produce

Researchers have long known how planes fly and use wind tunnels to continually test and update new designs. But this doesn't work to study the flapping of bird wings, and most suggestions of how this works are theoretical. But researchers at Stanford University recently figured out a way to put those theories to the test. Lead author Eric Gutierrez trained Obi to fly through a cloud of micron-sized aerosol particles illuminated by a sheet of lasers. This allowed the researchers to visualize the air currents created by Obi’s wings. But there was one complication.
 Flying through lasers is not easy on the eyes, so Gutierrez and mechanical engineer David Lentink designed a pair of special goggles for Obi.


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