Jane Wang, associate professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Cornell University, was the keynote speaker at the annual Memorial Bertman Lecture April 30 in Exley Science Center. The event was sponsored and organized by the Department of Physics.
Wang spoke on the aerodynamics and optimization of "Falling Paper and Insect Flight." She focused on dragonfly flight and her current effort in understanding the dynamics and control of insects in free flight.
Wang's presentation examined an insect from its outer scale, where insect wings are immersed in fluids. To stay aloft, an insect wing must solve the problem of unsteady aerodynamics. During her presentation she asked the audience to consider: "What kind of flow and forces does a flapping wing generate? How are flows and forces similar and different from those around and on an airfoil? Exactly when does the classical aerodynamic theory become inapplicable?"
The Bertman Lecture concluded the Department of Physics's 2009 Colloquium Series. On April 16, Sam Slishman '93 of the Endorphin Power Company, spoke on "Physics and medicine, the good and the bad: the story of a liberal arts physics major in the medical bubble." (Photos by Alexandra Portis '09)