News & Events
Buttercup seeds reveal their secrets
- September 14, 2019
- Posted by: Wiley M. Wagner
- Category: Science
Being carried away by the wind, the buttercup flower seeds can fly more than a kilometer, depending on the distance and speed of the wind – such interesting properties appear when they take off from the ground. Today, specialists from the University of Edinburgh presented their scientific report on why this is happening and how the morphology of flight of buttercup seeds can be useful in improving current concepts and technologies of parachutes and flight devices. Looking ahead, it can be noted that buttercup seeds exhibit such amazing flying qualities due to the special shape of the so-called “scattered funnel rings” formed due to the work of seed bristles.
These seed bristles are called pappus and are special processes at the ends of the seeds, with which they can soar into the air and fly long distances. In its functioning, the pappus forms vertical air bubbles-rings rising above the bristles and thus enhancing the aerodynamic properties of the seeds, which makes them soar in the manner of a parachute.
Specialists, armed with modern technologies in the field of photography and spectroscopy, as well as using an x-ray, created a special vertical air tunnel, where a constant stream of air forced the buttercup seeds to be in flight, establishing an average pattern of their flight. Studying the behavior of bristles and pappus, as well as ring air bubbles derived from them, experts came to the conclusion that this design not only improves aerodynamics, but also helps to increase the strength of seeds.
In other words, the demonstrated vertical flight technique for buttercup seeds indicates that such a pattern can and should be tested and tested in the creation of modern parachutes – it is possible that such a pattern will allow them to become faster, more efficient and safer. Many parachutes just suffer from the inability to quickly and accurately cope with the opening with strong wind resistance, which can be a serious problem when used in special conditions.