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27 November 2010

The Fly’s Adaptive Aerodynamics


Recent experiments have revealed that when perturbed in flight, a fruit fly can recover its heading to within 2 degrees in less than a tenth of a second. Here’s how the researchers describe the results:

Just as the Wright brothers implemented controls to achieve stable airplane flight, flying insects have evolved behavioral strategies that ensure recovery from flight disturbances.

This is yet another example of evolutionary euphemism. Recovery from flight disturbances is a complex, fine-tuned capability integrating sensors, algorithms and actuators. Not the stuff of random mutations. So the evolutionary euphemism compares it with the Wright brothers and their flying machines.

Pioneering studies performed on tethered and dissected insects demonstrate that the sensory, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems play important roles in flight control.

Indeed, sensory, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems need to be tightly coordinated.

High-speed video and a new motion tracking method capture the aerial “stumble,” and we discover that flies respond to gentle disturbances by accurately returning to their original orientation. These insects take advantage of a stabilizing aerodynamic influence and active torque generation to recover their heading to within 2 degrees in less than 60 ms. To explain this recovery behavior, we form a feedback control model that includes the fly’s ability to sense body rotations, process this information, and actuate the wing motions that generate corrective aerodynamic torque.

The fly’s sensors are tiny sensors known as halteres, structures that evolutionists have considered to be rudimentary—evolutionary leftovers. Now we’re told they just happened to evolve fantastic gyroscopic sensing capabilities, which just happened to be sent to the fly’s neurological circuits, which just happened to compute meaningful flight control maneuvers, which just happened to be sent to the fly’s musculoskeletal system. No wonder evolutionists resort to euphemisms.

Thus, like early man-made aircraft and modern fighter jets, the fruit fly employs an automatic stabilization scheme that reacts to short time-scale disturbances.

An automatic stabilization scheme for short time-scale disturbances that just happened to arise? Religion drives science, and it matters.

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