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Artificial butterfly mixes high, low tech

Model swallowtail shows importance of wing veins, bobbing flight

By
6:28pm, May 24, 2010

View a video of an artificial butterfly in flight

A new artificial butterfly is revealing the importance of wing veins and of upsy-downsy waverings to swallowtails’ flight.

The tiny machine flaps a pair of wings made of thin polymer film and can stay airborne for four or five meters at a time, until the coiled rubber band powering it unwinds, Hiroto Tanaka of Harvard University and Isao Shimoyama of the University of Tokyo report in the June Bioinspiration & Biomimetics.

The team designed a model swallowtail butterfly and analyzed its flight patterns as a way to investigate basic questions about flight that they could

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