Frank Wolfs, UR professor of Physics, gave a lecture last Wednesday entitled “The Physics of Flying,”at 3:30 p.m. The talk discussed areas of physics involved in flight that are not generally understood by members of the physics community. Wolfs mainly addressed the common misconception that the Bernoulli effect is responsible for lift. “If you remember one thing from this talk, please remember that the lift generated by a wing that relies on the downward deflection of air and that the Bernoulli effect does not explain why planes fly,” Wolfs said. The force of lift is an essential part of flight – when lift exceeds the weight of the plane, take off ensues.Wolfs also applied a physics perspective on some aspects of flying, such as airplane control, stability, take off and thrust from a propeller. The dangers of improper calculation were also mentioned. Wolfs explained that the center of gravity, an important factor in stability, is often never measured because it is impractical for airliners to do so. Instead, statistics are used to make the calculation.The audience for the talk was a strong turnout, almost filling the large lecture hall.This lecture is part of the weekly Physics Department Colloquium lecture series. The series is meant to broaden interest in physics by offering a general lecture on a different topic every week. Physics enthusiasts are given an opportunity to see what others in their field are working on while anyone interested in physics can broaden their scope. “It develops a community and helps bring people from different fields together,” graduate student Dan Berdine said. However, some students disagreed. “The physics of flying has been discussed for many years and is no longer an enticing subject,” sophomore Eric Culverwell said. Culverwell is a physics major. The lectures are typically an hour long and are given by physics seniors, graduate students and faculty members. Each lecture is preceded by a tea time where students and faculty can informally socialize with each other. The next lecture in the series was presented by Professor Giorgio Gratta of Stanford University on Feb. 11 in Bausch and Lomb 109 at 3:30 p.m. Reichenberger can be reachedat firstname.lastname@example.org.
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