Latest News

There’s No One Way to Explain How Flying Works

Let's be clear–airplanes are complicated. Sure it’s's completely possible to get a bit of paper and fold it in a manner that is particular that it stinks. However, the physics of flight isn't trivial. It's much more difficult to give an explanation of these forces onto a flying aircraft at a short video–which is what I did with my latest WIRED video about the physics of flying.

One of the most common remarks for this video was something similar to this:

What the hell is wrong with this video? Some dude is attempting to explain how planes fly and he didn't even say the word “Bernoulli.” Everyone already knows that planes fly due to Bernoulli's principle. This man needs to go back to school.

OK, the part about going back to school is most likely true (I can always learn more). Nonetheless, it turns out you don't need Bernoulli's principle to explain how airplanes can fly.

Let's suppose I wanted to explain a plane’s flight. I could use this common explanation:

A wing is curved on the surface. Some air goes over the top if it runs into the air and a few goes beneath. It must go faster since the aviation is longer. According to Bernoulli's principle, air that is quicker decreases pressure. With pressure on the surface, the airplane gets pushed up. It's physics.

Regrettably, there are issues with an explanation like this. The first problem is that air doesn't journey across the top at a quicker speed because it's a longer route–that's just not true (check out this fantastic video explaining the typical difficulties with the flying explanation). The next difficulty is assaulting a complicated idea (flying) with the other challenging concept (Bernoulli's principle). By using Bernoulli'therefore principle, the physics of flight becomes more like a word association game. I state lift force, you state Bernoulli. #x27, Don &;t worry about just remember that Bernoulli is the answer that is right.

You can observe such explanations in different areas. My favorite is that the question of what causes the seasons on Earth. Or like I term it is it hotter in the summer? If you ask people on the road, I bet the vast majority of them are going to say something about the tilt of the planet's axis. Indeed, it’s warmer on Earth (in the Northern hemisphere) due to Earth's tilted axis. But if you press and inquire why this makes it warmer, there is a chance that they'll respond the tilt of the Earth brings things nearer to the sun, thereby heating up. HINT: This isn’t right. The reason #x27 & it;s warmer in the summer is the sun travels higher in the sky for a longer time. Both of these variables means solar heating of the ground and hotter weather. In reality, because the Earth's orbit isn't entirely circular, we are really further from the sun during the summer— but it's still hotter than the winter.

So, in the end people get this false sense of understanding (whether it's all about flying planes or the main reason behind the seasons).

In the case of wing lift, I like to utilize more ideas–like the momentum principle. This is the same idea that if it is hit by a ball you would use to explain the forces. It's likely a human will be able to relate to the idea of a bouncing ball than something like Bernoulli's principle. #x27 & this;s the short variant of the way a wing functions. The wing crashes that it pushes down it. As forces pushing down the air means that the air pushes up on the wing. That force is what we call lift.

This goes together with my Number 1 Rule in Science Communication:

You could be 100% incorrect, although you can be 100 percent correct in your explanation. #x27, the goal isn &;t to be correct in it, your writing's to not be wrong.

It isn & #x27; t incorrect, although the flying video doesn & #x27; t tell the entire story. Additionally, describing the lift force employing the momentum principle isn't new (for instance see this paper) also it doesn't tell the complete story. The interaction with the wing and the air depends on the bottom of the wing but what happens with all the air on the surface of the wing. In mathematics, it's complicated.


Related Post

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top