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Aerodynamics of everything can we learn from nature?


Posted on 20 July 2007

Professor Geoff Spedding, of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California, will deliver an open lecture on Aerodynamics of Everything, at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday, July 24.
Professor Geoff Spedding, of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California, will deliver an open lecture on Aerodynamics of Everything, at the University of Pretoria on Tuesday, July 24.

Life on earth is surrounded by aerodynamic puzzles and problems and the talk will encourage basic questions about all flying things, answering some of them.

“The history of aviation has seen 100 years of spectacular successes in large-scale transport. However, aerodynamics involves much more than just large and fast transport aircraft. While all kinds of cases of objects moving through air, or air moving past objects, are easily counted in large number, they are not always so easy to investigate using our textbook tools and examples. A case in point is the current research in designing and building small-scale flying machines, about the size of a human hand. They can carry a camera and transmit information from inaccessible and/or dangerous places, manoeuvring through complex environments. Unfortunately, we now find that our usual analysis methods break down for the aerodynamics of even simple objects at this size and speed range, “explains Spedding.

“Overall, the specifications of these flying machines sound a lot like that of a bird, and perhaps we can learn from nature, where such problems have apparently been solved to the satisfaction of the flyers themselves,” says Spedding

Professor Spedding’s background includes both biology and engineering and he enjoys working on problems that contain a bit of both. He also works on the detection of submarine tracks in work sponsored by the US Navy.

Attendance to the public lecture is free, but booking is essential. Call Karin Fischer on 012 420 3104 of e-mail.


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