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November 24 2012

Owl feathers inspire quieter change


An owl glides by on silent wings. Many holiday travelers probably wish airplanes could do the same.

"On airplanes, the back edge of the wing is where you get most of the noise," Justin Jaworski, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, told TechNewsDaily. "My work is looking at developing theoretical models to explain trailing-edge noise."

Most recently, he and his colleague Nigel Peake showed, mathematically, that the noise from airplane wings could be reduced tenfold if their designers took a few cues from the feathers that fringe the trailing edge of an owl's wings.

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