How Owls Could Quiet Wind Turbines and Planes
If you were a field mouse minding your own business and foraging for some food in the forest, the last creature you’d want to spot you would be an owl. The reason is simple–even as the bird of prey swooped down with talons open, you’d never hear it coming.
Owls have an impressive superpower in silent flight, made possible by specialized wings and feathers that disperse the sound of air rushing past them. Now an international research team says they have taken a tip from owls that could eventually lead to turbine blades and jet aircraft that produce significantly less noise.
“No other bird has this sort of intricate wing structure,” said University of Cambridge applied mathematician Nigel Peake. “Much of the noise caused by a wing – whether it’s attached to a bird, a plane or a fan – originates at the trailing edge where the air passing over the wing surface is turbulent. The structure of an owl’s wing serves to reduce noise by smoothing the passage of air as it passes over the wing – scattering the sound so their prey can’t hear them coming.” Learn more below.