Recording of Avian Arithmetic: The mathematics of bird flight with Peter Cavanagh

This is a recording of a live-streamed event that took place on Friday, March 5, 2021.

Appropriate for ages 10 and up.

Many of the secrets of bird flight remain to be unlocked despite centuries of study.  Ornithology has traditionally been an empirical science, but various branches of applied mathematics have proven helpful in the understanding and modeling of this complex locomotor behavior.  Led by bird photographer and author Peter Cavanagh, we'll take a quick tour of the basic anatomy and biomechanics of bird flight, then discover where math fits into the puzzle.  How does body size relate to flight speed?  How can we use computational fluid dynamics to understand lift production in hovering hummingbirds, entropy to provide insight into flocking behavior, proportional navigation to study the pursuit of prey, and trigonometry to generate bird art?  We'll also touch on the transfer of some of this learned information to the design of bioinspired flying machines in this delightful exploration of the math of bird flight.

Peter Cavanagh is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington and was guest curator of the exhibition How Birds Fly at the Seattle Museum of Flight.  Some of his flight photography is at www.petercavanagh.us and on Instagram @petercavanaghbirds.  His book 100 Flying Birds is due out in the fall of 2021 from Firefly Books Ltd.

To learn about MoMath’s policies regarding video recordings, visit videos.momath.org.

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