Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Mathematical Butterfly: Simulations Provide New Insights On Flight

(ISNS) – Flapping and flitting butterflies have long inspired poets, singers and even boxers. Now their motions are inspiring researchers to understand how winged insects get from place to place.

"As the phrase 'float like a butterfly' shows, butterflies elegantly fly around," said study author Naoto Yokoyama, an assistant professor in aeronautics and astronautics at Kyoto University in Japan. "We would like to understand how they fly in the viewpoint of the fluid dynamics." 

Yokoyama and his colleagues created numerical simulations of a butterfly's forward flight. They modeled a chestnut tiger butterfly as four rigid bodies: a football-shaped thorax that lies between the head and the abdomen, the abdomen, and left and right thin, flat wings.

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