Should Airplanes Look Like Birds?

Currently a Boeing 747 gets 0.2 miles per gallon; a more aerodynamic plane would reduce drag as it cruises through the air and increase lift, which translates to better fuel economy.

Like their automobile counterparts, airplane engineers have been looking for ways to safely send those 70-ton metallic birds into the air on a leaner fuel diet to cut down on carbon emissions and rising transportation costs. Earlier this year, engineers Geoffrey Spedding at the University of Southern California and Joachim Huyssen at Northwest University in South Africa put their heads together to tackle that airplane fuel efficiency conundrum. After reconfiguring the typical plane design in order to maximize the plane’s aerodynamics, they came up with a brilliantly basic answer: Airplanes should look more like birds.

Personal Growth

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Researchers believe that the practice of sleeping through the whole night didn’t really take hold until just a few hundred years ago.

The Bed by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Surprising Science

She was wide awake and it was nearly two in the morning. When asked if everything was alright, she said, “Yes.” Asked why she couldn’t get to sleep she said, “I don’t know.” Neuroscientist Russell Foster of Oxford might suggest she was exhibiting “a throwback to the bi-modal sleep pattern." Research suggests we used to sleep in two segments with a period of wakefulness in-between.

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Photo credit: Darren Hauck / Getty Images
Mind & Brain

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