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How evolution builds the most efficient airfoils


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Swimming and flying animals are optimally adapted for cruising through their environments, producing thrust via propulsors—wings for birds and caudal fins for fish. Over millions of years, the morphology of these animals evolved for maximally efficient cruising, and about 30 years ago, researchers proposed that most swimmers cruise within a narrow range of Strouhal numbers—these are dimensionless numbers describing oscillating flow. And more recently, researchers determined that flying animals cruise in the same range of Strouhal numbers.

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