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Thread: Avian influence on the development of flight.

  1. #1 Avian influence on the development of flight. 
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    Let's say birds didn't make it. Went the same way as the dinosaurs in a second mass extinction event. How would this have affected the the development of aeronautics? Would the invention of aircraft still be inevitable?


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  3. #2  
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    Would there still be bugs? Then yes. Even without bugs, I think the answer would be yes, but it might have taken a little longer to think of it.


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  4. #3  
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    Yes there would still be insects but making a machine that replicates the flight of, say, a dragonfly is a hugely complex task. Also if there had never been any birds would flight still be "aspirational"? Who would dream of "soaring like a fly"?
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    Forum Ph.D. Nevyn's Avatar
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    to be honest I haven't seen birds with jet engines or propellers so we know that birds didn't give that much influence. We also have hot air balloons and zeplins for aeronauticle travel. Different simulations would have probably foundthat the best way of flight would be with wings any way.
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  6. #5  
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    I'm with Nevyn...the way that birds fly seems to be completely different from the way that airplanes fly, except for the fact that in both cases you have wings that create lift by forcing air downward...which is true for any sort of winged flight.
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    Early attempts at flight failed because they attempted to rreplicate the motions of birds. Others never even made the attempt because they determined a bird like machine was unbuildable with available materials and technology.
    Birs may have inspired flight, but they probably also delayed its succesful implementation.
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  8. #7  
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    Now that is interesting. Birds have been a distraction. We may have spent more time looking at sycamore seeds instead of obsessing over our feathered friends.
    I say, I say, I say, when is a bird like a red herring.....
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  9. #8  
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    Icarus has a point. Yes, early attempts were aimed at at flapping flight and unsuccessful, but modern flight started out with gliding. We probably would have come up with the concept without birds, insects, gliding squirrels and lizards, etc. (other sources of inspiration: falling leaves) but the matter of fact is that the early *successful* attempts at flight were inspired by gliding birds. Just look at Lilienthal's studies of birds. He pioneered gliding with a scientific/engineering approach and layed the ground work for the Wright brothers, who also were inspired by birds in their studies of aerodynamics.

    It's a very good question and not easy to answer. Is natural inspiration a necessary condition for human ingenuity? Even though we don't do it like birds, early humans surely felt the urge to fly because of their observation of flying animals. That dream did not come out of the blue. The question is, would we have dreamed the same dream, without the inspiration? Does a blind person who grows up in solitude and never in his life hears of a thing called "sight" dream to see?
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  10. #9  
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    What inspired the space rocket?

    For me it would seem that it was the simple theory "Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction"

    I think every human who has stood on a high viewing point and looked over a vast plain far below has imagined flight. Even simplistic "Slow falling" flight like Parachutes. The evolution from Parachute to Baloon to Wing seems rather inevitable once the technology exists. The transition from there to aircraft is mostly to do with the scientific method and the eventual discovering of how a curved surface reacts to air moving past it. And after that, weight-saving measures like strong but light materials, engines which are able to deliver lots of RPM but remain light and small, and proper understanding of how the curved shape and airflow act.
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