News From the Field
Maple Seeds and Animals Exploit the Same Trick to Fly
June 11, 2009
The twirling seeds of maple trees spin like miniature helicopters as they fall to the ground. Because the seeds descend slowly as they swirl, they're carried aloft by the wind and dispersed over great distances. Just how the seeds manage to fall so slowly, however, has mystified scientists. In research published in the June 12 issue of Science, researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Caltech describe the aerodynamic secret of the enchanting swirling seeds.
California Institute of Technology
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