Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Staying the course: fruit flies employ stabilizer reflex to recover from midflight stumbles

02.03.2010
Observing the aerial maneuvers of fruit flies, Cornell University researchers have uncovered how the insects – when disturbed by sharp gusts of wind – right themselves and stay on course.

Fruit flies use an automatic stabilizer reflex that helps them recover with precision from midflight stumbles, according to observations published online today (March 1, 2010) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Learning from the biological world could help the mechanical, as the research on insect flight could help engineers simplify the design of maneuverable and stable flapping-wing aircraft.

The team led by Cornell doctoral candidate Leif Ristroph made its observations with three high-speed (about 8,000 frames per second) video cameras that recorded every slight motion of the insects. Ristroph is a student in the laboratory of Itai Cohen, assistant professor of physics.

To unlock the secrets of flight stability in these flies, the researchers devised a way to trip them up in midflight. They glued tiny magnets to the backs of flies sedated by a dunk into ice water. When the insect came to and flew around, the researchers turned on magnetic fields that zapped the magnet, nudging the insect off its flight path.

The researchers found that the insects paddled their wings to steer while flying, delicately adjusting the inclination of their wings by miniscule amounts – as little as 9 degrees – at a remarkable rate of 250 times a second.

Thus, the insects took the disturbance in stride, quickly paddling their wings so that they could recover their original posture with pinpoint accuracy. All this is possible because of two small, vibrating sense organs called halteres, which millions of years ago evolved from what used to be a pair of hind wings. Mathematical models show how the halteres ultimately tell the wings to paddle.

Without flight, life as humanity knows it would not be possible. Cohen says: "The ability to control flight profoundly changed the evolution of our planet. About 350 million years ago, the world was devoid of the many trees and flowers of today. Once insects figured out how to maneuver through the air, these pollinators enabled the Earth to blossom with life."

The paper is titled "Discovering the flight auto-stabilizer of fruit flies by inducing aerial stumbles." The other authors: Jane Wang, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering; and John Guckenheimer, professor of mathematics; Attila Bergou, Cornell Ph.D. '09; Katherine Coumes '11, Ristroph's brother Gunnar Ristroph, and Gordon Berman Ph.D. '09.

The National Science Foundation supported the research.

Blaine Friedlander | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>