Bird wing suspension

In collaborative work with the Royal Veterinary College we have discovered that gliding birds fly smoothly because their wings act as a suspension system. Birds withstand sudden gusts by allowing their wings to pivot about the shoulder absorbing energy and leaving the head and body largely unaffected. The very fastest part of the suspension effect is built into the mechanics of the wings, so birds don’t actively need to do anything. The process is automatic and allows enough time for aerodynamic processes to start to work.

Bird gust rejection

This collaborative work with the Royal Veterinary College project aims to quantify the mechanics of how birds deal with gusts. We have filmed trained falconry birds flying through controlled gusts generated using a bank of fans to measure how their wings move in a gust. These images were then used to reconstruct the 3D wing shape in high resolution. This allowed us to use an innovation combination of 3D surface reconstruction, computed tomography (CT) scans, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to understand how birds negotiate gusts through wing morphing.

Bird flight stability

This project aims to quantify the stability of birds in gliding flight. Birds have the potential to completely change their flight dynamics by morphing their wings to suit different conditions. By using an array of photographic cameras to get views of birds from different angles at the same instant, we have been able to very accurately reconstruct the wing shape of birds in gliding flight. These measurements are being used as the basis for research characterising birds' flight dynamics and stability.

Cytoplasmic movements in human eggs coincide with calcium activity

This movie shows how human egg cells "pulse" in time with changes in levels of calcium within the egg. One of the issues with IVF is picking the best egg cell to put back into the mother. This method offers a non-invasive way of measuring calcium activity and offers the potential for improving IVF success rates. It has already been shown to predict viability in mouse embryos.

Blind cave fish - Hydrodynamic imaging

Blind cave fish (Astyanax mexicanus) live in caves in Mexico and do not have functioning eyes. In the complete darkness of the caves the fish are able to avoid colliding with obstacles and each other. Using their lateral line sensory system the fish are able to sense objects by the way the objects effect the flow around the fish as they swim through the water. This video summarises research conducted at the University of Auckland looking at the fluid mechanics involved with the remarkable sensory ability.

Virtual reality insect flight simulator - University of Oxford

The virtual reality flight simulator shown here is used to study how insects control their flight. In the flight simulator we can show insects any visual world we want and measure how they respond. By showing the insects a range of different visual motions we can build up models of how the insects flight control system works. We can then compare these models to what we know about how the insect flies and start to answer questions about how insects achieve such amazing flight performance. This simulator was created by the Animal Flight Group under the leadership of Dr Graham Taylor at the University of Oxford.

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