Stories tagged wings

Green June Beetles (before cyber-enhancement)
Green June Beetles (before cyber-enhancement)Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are commonly used in military operations. Micro air vehicles (MAVs) are a subcategory of UAVs that are currently in development and can be as small as 15 centimeters (~ 5.9 inches); their anticipated uses include search-and-rescue, surveillance, detection of explosives, and monitoring of hazardous environments.

Two researchers from the University of Michigan researchers had an idea: instead of building UAVs the size of an insect, why not use the insects themselves? Professor Khalil Najafi and doctoral student Erkan Aktakka engineered a piezoelectric generator that converted the kinetic energy from the wing movements of a Green June Beetle into electricity (45 µW per insect). Their research was recently published in the paper, "Energy scavenging from insect flight," which appeared in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.Cyborg Beetle: Through a device invented at the University of Michigan, an insect's wing movements can potentially generate enough electricity to power small devices such as a camera, microphone, or gas sensor.
Cyborg Beetle: Through a device invented at the University of Michigan, an insect's wing movements can potentially generate enough electricity to power small devices such as a camera, microphone, or gas sensor.Courtesy Erkan Aktakka

This research was funded by the Hybrid Insect Micro Electromechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) program of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

University News Release: Insect cyborgs may become first responders, search and monitor hazardous environs

Dec
22
2009

Yes, it is perched on a trash can: But only because I think that the trash might provide it with the high calorie diet it would need to operate those large flight muscles.
Yes, it is perched on a trash can: But only because I think that the trash might provide it with the high calorie diet it would need to operate those large flight muscles.Courtesy JGordon
Angels and fairies, if they’re the sorts of things that actually exist, says a biologist from University College London, could never actually fly. That is, if we’re to believe that the way they’re portrayed in art is accurate.

Well, duh. Whether or not angels and fairies can actually fly seems to be something of a non-issue, but… of course. We figured this out a long time ago when we looked at pictures of angels and fairies and thought, well, that doesn’t make a ton of sense. But, no, scientist guy has to go rubbing our faces in it right at the holidays, when angels are feeling really pretty and good about themselves. How do you suppose they feel now, Scrooge? And picking on fairies like that is unconscionable; every time you say a fairy can’t fly, a fairy somewhere gets explosive diarrhea. And fairies live in sock drawers, so you’ve probably ruined some kid’s day too.

But professor Roger Wotton doesn’t care. All the sad angels with body-image issues and violently ill fairies in the world couldn’t stop him from pointing out the fundamental flaws in angel and fairy body design.

First of all, the wings are generally too small for fairies’ and angels’ body sizes. Birds and bats weigh very, very little relative to the area of their wings, otherwise they couldn’t take off. Wotton proposes that the mythical creatures might be able to glide a little, but the wings would need to be totally rigid then, and they’re often depicted in art being folded.

For true flight, Wotton says, angels and fairies would need to have the large, complex muscles of birds and flying insects. But they don’t. (Another fairy is losing bowel control right now.)

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I have drawn a more anatomically correct angel/fairy for you all. Note the delicate limbs, deep, muscular chest, and aerodynamic body. Now you can imagine this realistically perching on top of your Christmas tree, or pulling teeth from beneath your pillow.

You’re welcome! Ho ho ho!