If you have any maple trees in your yard, you’ve no doubt observed the seeds helicoptering to the ground. The distinctive shape of the seeds allows them to spin in the air as they fall. When carried by the wind, they can land sometimes up to a mile away. The secret is known as “auto-rotation” which provides lift just like the wings of an airplane or the rotors of a helicopter. Using a smoke-filled wind tunnel, Dr. David Lentnick of the Netherlands photographed stable, low-pressure vortices forming on the leading edge of the wing (video in linked article below). This research has great potential in design ideas for miniature aircraft. A classmate of mine stated that maple seeds were the inspiration for his invention of an airdrop container called “Copterbox.” His name is Chase Warren and he appears in the short video linked below. The container has military applications, but also potential use in emergency and disaster-relief operations. Biomimicry is an extensive field which borrows design ideas from the Grand Designer—God. We should not be surprised to discover that we cannot improve upon divine creation.
(Copterbox video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKMgPbq79m4&feature=player_embedded