Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bumblebee Feedback

We all know those plump Bumblebees that fly around. Until now scientists have been unable to develop a sound theory on how Bumblebees fly. Traditional aerodynamic theories (e.g. theories that explain how airplanes fly) are inadequate to explain the lift or fast forward flight of a Bumblebee. Yet, Bumblebees fly!



Clue
Although it's hard to fit into mathematical formulas, scientist have a clue on how insects, Bumblebees in particular, are able to fly.

Contrary to an airplane, insects are flapping their wings.
Bees beat their wings approximately 200 times a second (video), which is 10–20 times as fast as nerve impulses can fire. They achieve this because their thorax muscles do not expand and contract on each nerve firing, but rather vibrate like a plucked rubber band.

The clue can be found in the way insects flap their wings. The flapping motion causes the leading edge vortex to spiral out to the wingtip, siphoning off the vortex and delaying stall. One way or the other, the augmented lift, coupled with the delayed stall, is the principle mechanism that insects use for generating 'lift'.

Until this very moment (2009) we are unable to explain the exact principles behind this complex lift effect. Perhaps there isn't a single simple theory and is the only 'explanation' found in a process called 'Feedback Dynamics'.


Feedback Dynamics
In the world of Feedback Dynamics we adapt and adjust 'our' behavior - without any conscious handling or direct nerve interference - in small rapid steps until the desired goal (e.g. 'lift') has been attained.

Feedback Dynamics doesn't ask 'how' or 'why'.

Counting in the dynamic influence of the continuously changing environment, Feedback Dynamics simply persistently adjusts behavior in the direction of the defined goal (e.g. I want to fly).

What can we learn from the Bumblebee?
Our bumblebee lessons could be summarized as follows:

  • Logic & Science
    Even if you think you don't qualify or are unable to achieve things in life because 'logic' tells you so, the doctor (specialist) has told you or your family tells you you can't: Don't accept this 'science' for an answer. Find new ways to achieve your goals, show your environment it can be done, although perhaps in a different way.

  • Stop How & Why?
    If you want to achieve extraordinary new results and you found out they couldn't be achieved 'the normal way', don't count anymore on your history of 'how' and 'why', but trust on your gut-feeling. Take a few small steps in a arbitrary direction and see if you can get away from your current position. This - strange at it might seem - preferably isn't necessarily in the direction of your predefined goal. From this new achieved position, repeat small steps again. Enjoy the journey and soon you'll learn to discovered Nova Terra or have learned to fly.

  • Math Models
    Most things in life can't be fully explained by mathematical models. A math model helps to explain to describe reality. It is, at its best, a simplified projection of reality, but must not be confused with reality itself.

  • Flap your wings
    If you get stuck in life, never sit down in despair too long, but flap your wings: Take action!

  • Believe in yourself
    Like the Bumblebee, always keep believing in yourself. Never (unhealthy) doubt yourself or don't ever let anybody bring you down who can 'proof' you can't fly or tells you that you aren't good in 'this' or 'that'. You don't need proof, you Are the proof. Even if you're now and then wrong, that doesn't mean you're totally wrong. It shows you're human. Try to learn from it (if possible) and in any case don't give up on yourself!

Enjoy life and apply Feedback Dynamics in it!

Sources:
- Dissecting Insect Flight (2005)
- Mechanics of Forward Flight of Bumblebees (1989)
- Control Theory: Design and Analysis of Feedback Systems
- Wikipedia
- Why bumblebees can fly

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

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