Symmetric Bat Flight


From a shimmering wave of orange emerges the shape of a bat, its outstretched wings ready to propel it out of the frame. The image, which took first place in informational graphics in the 2007 National Science Foundation–Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, is in fact rich with aerodynamic detail derived from observations of bats in wind tunnels and simulations of the airflow around their wings when flying. It was created by David J. Willis of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brown University, Mykhaylo Kostandov, Daniel K. Riskin, David H. Laidlaw, Sharon M. Swartz and Kenneth S. Breuer of Brown, and Jaime Peraire of MIT, with support from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. "Sightings" guest columnist Robert Kosara talked with Laidlaw, who works in virtual reality and visualization, about how this collaboration came about and what makes bats so interesting.
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Robert Kosara,
Symmetric Bat Flight,
American Scientist, vol. 96, no. 4, pp. 348–349, 2008.