Saturday, December 03, 2005
NOW YOU KNOW . . . BEES CAN FLY . . . HERE'S HOW
Scientists have long been derided because of mathematical calculations made in 1934 by French entomologist August Magnan proving that, despite visible evidence to the contrary, the flight of bees was "impossible." But now bioengineer Michael Dickinson of Caltech and his colleagues have shown conclusively how the hefty insects manage their aeronautical excursions. Dickinson's team used a combination of high-speed digital photography and a giant robotic mock-up of a bee wing to demonstrate the unusual mechanics behind bee flight. The secret, they reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a combination of short wing strokes, rapid rotation of the wing as it changes direction, and very fast flapping.