Researcher with model whale flipper

Researcher with model whale flipper

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Caption: Researcher with model whale flipper. Engineer Laurens Howle from Duke University, USA, holding a scale model humpback whale pectoral flipper. In wind tunnel tests, the modified whale flipper showed 8 percent better lift properties than a normal airplane wing, and withstood stall (reduction in lift) at a 40 percent steeper wind angle. Researchers believe this is due to the scalloped and uneven protruberances, known as tubercles, on the flippers leading edge. It is thought that tubercles on humpback whale flippers allow the whale to swim more efficiently through water. Tubercles may one day be designed for new biomimetic (mimicking nature) wings, helicopter blades, propellers and ship rudders.

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