Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Fly

Or at least the wing of a very small fly, seen here in through the eye of the microscope, attached to the end of a cantilever sensor.

The insect wing has had plenty of time to evolve into an efficient air coupling device, and it is low in mass, very strong for its size, and has important directional properties for use as a sound sensor. Like some airplane wings, a spar comprises the leading edge of this device, terminated in a ball and socket arrangement, which sadly for the fly, is easy to remove.

The trailing edge is also wonderful: it almost vanishes into nothing and yet captures the air without being too soft or floppy. And in fact the structure is amazingly stiff, yet lightweight.

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