Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

New study: how the hummingbird performs stunning feats of aerobatics

Hummingbird in flight

Hummingbird in flight

New study reported by Science Daily.

Excerpt:

The sight of a tiny hummingbird hovering in front of a flower and then darting to another with lightning speed amazes and delights. But it also leaves watchers with a persistent question: How do they do it?

Now, the most detailed, three-dimensional aerodynamic simulation of hummingbird flight conducted to date has definitively demonstrated that the hummingbird achieves its nimble aerobatic abilities through a unique set of aerodynamic forces that are more closely aligned to those found in flying insects than to other birds.

The new supercomputer simulation was produced by a pair of mechanical engineers at Vanderbilt University who teamed up with a biologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is described in the article “Three-dimensional flow and lift characteristics of a hovering ruby-throated hummingbird” published this fall in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

For some time researchers have been aware of the similarities between hummingbird and insect flight, but some experts have supported an alternate model which proposed that hummingbird’s wings have aerodynamic properties similar to helicopter blades. However, the new realistic simulation demonstrates that the tiny birds make use of unsteady airflow mechanisms, generating invisible vortices of air that produce the lift they need to hover and flit from flower to flower.

You might think that if the hummingbird simply beats its wings fast enough and hard enough it can push enough air downward to keep its small body afloat. But, according to the simulation, lift production is much trickier than that.

For example, as the bird pulls its wings forward and down, tiny vortices form over the leading and trailing edges and then merge into a single large vortex, forming a low-pressure area that provides lift. In addition, the tiny birds further enhance the amount of lift they produce by pitching up their wings (rotate them along the long axis) as they flap.

Hummingbirds perform another neat aerodynamic trick — one that sets them apart from their larger feathered relatives. They not only generate positive lift on the downstroke, but they also generate lift on the upstroke by inverting their wings. As the leading edge begins moving backwards, the wing beneath it rotates around so the top of the wing becomes the bottom and bottom becomes the top. This allows the wing to form a leading edge vortex as it moves backward generating positive lift.

According to the simulation, the downstroke produces most of the thrust but that is only because the hummingbird puts more energy into it. The upstroke produces only 30 percent as much lift but it takes only 30 percent as much energy, making the upstroke equally as aerodynamically efficient as the more powerful downstroke.

Large birds, by contrast, generate almost all of their lift on the downstroke. They pull in their wings toward their bodies to reduce the amount of negative lift they produce while flapping upward.

Awesome design in nature!

So the question I have from reading the article is this. Do birds and flying insects have a recent common ancestor? I don’t have too many friends who can answer this for me, but I asked one of them and they both said there is no recent common ancestor for hummingbirds and flying insects. So this looks like another example of convergence – common design in two animals that don’t share a recent common ancestor.

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New study: Saturn’s orbit keeps Earth in the circumstellar habitable zone

Circumstellar Habitable Zone

Circumstellar Habitable Zone

What do you need in order to have a planet that supports complex life? First, you need liquid water at the surface of the planet. But there is only a narrow range of temperatures that can support liquid water. It turns out that the size of the star that your planet orbits around has a lot to do with whether you get liquid water or not.

A heavy, metal-rich star allows you to have a habitable planet far enough from the star so  the planet can support liquid water on the planet’s surface while still being able to spin on its axis. The zone where a planet can have liquid water at the surface is called the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ). A metal-rich star like our Sun is very massive, which moves the habitable zone out further away from the star.

If our star were smaller, we would have to orbit much closer to the star in order to have liquid water at the surface. Unfortunately, if you go too close to the star, then your planet becomes tidally locked, like the moon is tidally locked to Earth. Tidally locked planets are inhospitable to life. So we need a star massive enough to give us a nice wide habitable zone far away from the Sun itself.

But even with the right size star, which we have in our solar sytem, we still have CHZ problems. Just because a planet starts off in the circumstellar habitable zone, it doesn’t mean that it will stay there.

Jay Richards tweeted about this new article from the New Scientist, which talks about that very problem.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Earth’s comfortable temperatures may be thanks to Saturn’s good behaviour. If the ringed giant’s orbit had been slightly different, Earth’s orbit could have been wildly elongated, like that of a long-period comet.

Our solar system is a tidy sort of place: planetary orbits here tend to be circular and lie in the same plane, unlike the highly eccentric orbits of many exoplanets. Elke Pilat-Lohinger of the University of Vienna, Austria, was interested in the idea that the combined influence of Jupiter and Saturn – the solar system’s heavyweights – could have shaped other planets’ orbits. She used computer models to study how changing the orbits of these two giant planets might affect the Earth.

Earth’s orbit is so nearly circular that its distance from the sun only varies between 147 and 152 million kilometres, or around 2 per cent about the average. Moving Saturn’s orbit just 10 percent closer in would disrupt that by creating a resonance – essentially a periodic tug – that would stretch out the Earth’s orbit by tens of millions of kilometres. That would result in the Earth spending part of each year outside the habitable zone, the ring around the sun where temperatures are right for liquid water.

Tilting Saturn’s orbit would also stretch out Earth’s orbit. According to a simple model that did not include other inner planets, the greater the tilt, the more the elongation increased. Adding Venus and Mars to the model stabilised the orbits of all three planets, but the elongation nonetheless rose as Saturn’s orbit got more tilted. Pilat-Lohinger says a 20-degree tilt would bring the innermost part of Earth’s orbit closer to the sun than Venus.

So the evidence for a out solar system being fine-tuned for life keeps piling up. It’s just another factor that has to be just right so that complex, embodied life could exist here. All of these factors need to be just right, not just the orbits of any other massive planets. And you need at least one massive planet to attract comets and other such unwelcome intruders away from the life-permitting planets.

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Who is paying for Obama’s executive order amnesty vote buying scheme?

The Daily Caller reports.

Excerpt:

Illegal immigrants will receive huge payments from American taxpayers under rules now being imposed by President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty.

The illegals will get work-permits and Social Security cards, and will be required to pay taxes, according to Cecilia Munoz, the former immigration lobbyist who is now a top Obama aide.

That means they’re part of the tax system, she said, when she was asked if the illegals would get annual payments under the Earned Income Tax Credit program.

“They are subject to our tax law,” she said, carefully.

Most households of illegals have very low income, and pay little in taxes. For example, in 2011, roughly 22 percent of immigrant households — both legal and illegal — were classified as living in poverty. In contrast, only 13 percent of American households were in poverty.

However, once illegal immigrants are enrolled in the tax system, they would be entitled to EITC payments.

The payments may be huge, and will rise each year.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, two parents with three or more children would receive up to $6,143 in 2014 if they earn less than $46,997.

A family with two kids, and an income of $20,000, would receive $14,590 in taxpayer funds this year alone.

Parents who earn less than the threshold would get $3,305 if they have one child, and $5,460 if they have two children.

The EITC program is already poorly monitored and may be subject to large amounts of fraud, according to critics.

Who is Cecilia Munoz? She used to work for “La Raza” for 20 years. La Raza means “The Race” in Spanish. They are a pro-amnesty group.

You would think that the Democrats would use their own money to bribe people to vote Democrat, but they would rather use yours. That’s what Obama was talking about when he talked about how society is better when he spreads the wealth around. You didn’t need that money you earned for anything, did you? Obama needs to spread it around to people who haven’t worked for it.

It all sounds so compassionate until somebody loses their job or can’t afford to provide for their own families with money they earned.

Filed under: News, , ,

Pro-life family wins case to avoid paying Obamacare surcharge on health insurance

I'm Scheming Unborn Baby, and I approve this decision

Scheming Unborn Baby scheming about becoming an ADF lawyer

Great news from Life News.

Excerpt:

A pro-life leader and his family who lost their health plan due to Obamacare filed suit in federal court this year. The family was suing because they were being forced on to the state’s health insurance exchange, which only offers plans that require them to pay for other people’s abortions.

Barth and Abbie Bracy had insurance through a private insurer, but Obamacare forced the insurer to cancel the policy effective later this year. Forced on to the Obamacare exchange, the Bracys were left only with plans that include a mandatory surcharge used to fund the elective abortions of others. Ironically, Barth Bracy is executive director of The Rhode Island State Right to Life Committee and has warned people of exactly the problems his family is now facing.

The lawsuit also challenged secrecy clauses within Obamacare which forbid Americans from being told prior to enrollment whether the plans they would purchase on an exchange will include abortion coverage. The clauses also forbid Americans from being told how much of the premium is a federally mandated abortion surcharge that pays for other people’s elective abortions.

Now, their attorneys, Alliance Defending Freedom, have informed LifeNews that the Bracy family won’t be forced to pay Obamacare’s abortion surcharge.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit against federal and state officials Wednesday after the addition of Obamacare plan options that, for the first time in Connecticut, will not require participants to pay for others’ elective abortions. Despite the Connecticut change, many American families are still being forced to pay hidden abortion surcharges.

“Americans should not have to pay a special fee for other people’s abortions in order to take care of their own family’s health,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “The Bracy family has experienced first-hand the kind of deception that was used to pass and that continues to pervade this law. While we are pleased that Connecticut families will now have a choice to avoid paying this abortion surcharge, it is a shame that other families won’t have that choice, and that most Americans don’t even know that they must pay this secret fee.”

Federal law forbids taxpayer subsidies for elective abortions; however, the Affordable Care Act requires every exchange plan that includes abortion to collect a separate fee that is used exclusively to pay for abortions. The ACA further forbids disclosure of the abortion surcharge to customers.

So it’s not just this family that won the case – it’s the whole state!!! I think this is just amazingly awesome. We need more people like this to take on the government, and thank God the ADF is there to defend them. We need more Christian lawyers who are willing to take cases like this.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , ,

Released e-mails: Obama administration asked CBS News to block Sharyl Attkisson

Ex-CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson

Ex-CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson

This is being reported by Pajamas Media. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt: (links removed)

Judicial Watch reports that the Obama administration has turned over about 42,000 pages of documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. The administration was forced to turn the documents over to Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Judicial Watch is posting them on its web site. The administration turned them over on November 18, 2014.

One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson.

Schultz replied, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”

Schultz also told Schmaler that he was working with reporter Susan Davis, then at the National Journal, to target Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA). Issa led the House investigation into Fast and Furious. Davis now works at USA Today. In the email chain, Schultz tells Schmaler that he would provide Davis with “leaks.”

Davis wrote a critical piece on Issa a few weeks later.

Attkisson was later subjected to hacking of her computer by people who remain unknown, but who likely belong to a government agency. She and CBS parted ways earlier in 2014, and Attkisson has since said that the network blocked her reports from airing.

Can anybody remember when journalists actually thought that their job was to report news, not to be allies of the Democrat party? I mean, other than Sharyl Attkisson, are there any actual reporters left who report the news honestly? I never watch anything on TV except Bret Baier on Special Report. At least on Fox News you get different points of view, like Charles Krauthammer vs Ron Fournier, or Stephen Hayes vs Juan Williams.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

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