The evolution of airplanes
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The prevailing view is that we cannot witness biological evolution because it occurred on a time scale immensely greater than our lifetime. Here, we show that we can witness evolution in our lifetime by watching the evolution of the flying human-and-machine species: the airplane. We document this evolution, and we also predict it based on a physics principle: the constructal law. We show that the airplanes must obey theoretical allometric rules that unite them with the birds and other animals. For example, the larger airplanes are faster, more efficient as vehicles, and have greater range. The engine mass is proportional to the body size: this scaling is analogous to animal design, where the mass of the motive organs (muscle, heart, lung) is proportional to the body size. Large or small, airplanes exhibit a proportionality between wing span and fuselage length, and between fuel load and body size. The animal-design counterparts of these features are evident. The view that emerges is that the evolution phenomenon is broader than biological evolution. The evolution of technology, river basins, and animal design is one phenomenon, and it belongs in physics. © 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1063/1.4886855
Publication InfoBejan, A; Charles, JD; & Lorente, S (2014). The evolution of airplanes. Journal of Applied Physics, 116(4). 10.1063/1.4886855. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8957.
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J.A. Jones Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering
Professor Bejan's research covers engineering science and applied physics: thermodynamics, heat transfer, convection, design, and evolution in nature. Professor Bejan was ranked in 2001 among the 100 most highly cited authors worldwide in engineering (all fields, all countries), the Institute for Scientific Information. Professor Bejan has received 18 honorary doctorates from universities in 11 countries. Adrian Bejan is the author of 30 books and over 650 peer-referred