Fly-O-Rama! – a Popular Science article about science’s quest to understand the incredible flying abilities of winged insects.
Though engineers figured out decades ago how to build airplanes that cross oceans, the aerodynamics of insects continue to baffle them. The way an airplane generates lift can be accounted for by a straightforward concept: The air streaming over the top of the wings exerts less pressure than the air below, and that imbalance keeps the wings aloft. But insects, though equipped with barely a brain to speak of, make complex maneuvers far beyond an airplane’s capabilities. They turn quicker than any fighter jet and land upside-down on ceilings. “These animals can move perfectly sideways, they can move backward and forward, they can rotate in place….Every time we do an experiment, we wonder how the hell do these little sesame-seed-size nervous systems do this?”