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Why don't I have wings?


Popcorn Sutton
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Thinking hard about being able to fly won't cause mutations in your genes towards that phenotype any more than thinking really hard about having long hair will make your hair grow faster, or thinking really hard about how I wish I could telepathically make coffee with my mind so it's ready when I get out of bed is going to actually give me that ability - something I'd probably appreciate more than flying.

 

I knew there was a reason all that hard thinking i was doing wasn't making my ..eek.gif .. any larger... wink.png

 

I vaguely remember some years ago a guy who used to make a fool of science forums. It was a young actor IIRC.

 

 

I confess, I am really Brad Pit...

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If we grew wings we would need a new spinal column to deal with the extra input of nerves, then we would need extra ribs for structural support of the ribcage, we would also need new layers of muscles to be able to move those wings. If the body stretched for all that our lungs would then have to extend because the tissue connecting the lungs to the body cavity have a habit of ripping in long torsos, this would cause problems for our diaphram being able to sufficiently pressure our lungs. And those are just the beginning of all the problems one would encounter to have even mildly functional wings, let alone ones that would allow flight.

 

I don't mean to be so negative all the time, but why must everyone jump straight to the most problematic scenario and then treat it like it's the only way? It's not a lack of imagination, or a lack of logical thinking. I think that it must be a lack of critical problem-solving, or some kind of anti-problemsolving, where the goal isn't to come up with creative solutions, but rather build the biggest roadblocks. How many great achievements in science and engineering were dismissed as impossible by otherwise reasonable people, right up until someone with more drive and open-mindedness made it possible?

 

- Wings do not need nerves. They can be "dead" tissue.

- You do not need extra structural support for the ribcage. The wings could be very light (most are, whether natural or man-made). The body can be supported by its skin alone. It would take very little additional connection between wings and skin to either support the wings, or to have the wings support the body.

- You don't need new layers of muscles if there is a way to use existing muscles to provide power. You don't need to fly like any particular animal does now, so you don't need to move the wings like a bird does, or a bee, so you don't need to be built like one.

- Wings that are used for gliding only would require no new power, and would be at least "mildly functional".

 

Altering your DNA to grow functional, powered wings is mad-scientist fiction, but it's entirely conceivable to create lightweight wings that could fold up to the size of a backpack, and could be surgically connected to metal piercings on the back, could be useful for gliding in favorable conditions, could be controlled by the arms for steering and perhaps some lift, and could accompany some other form of lift or propulsion maybe connected to the legs. That could be done now. Who knows what advancements could be made in a lifetime, if someone were serious about it, and studied engineering and incorporated ongoing advances in materials and aircraft design.

 

All the "impossible because [some ridiculous made-up requirement]" just seems like attempts to shut down anyone who thinks way too far outside the box. OP's ideas are crazy and impractical, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a reasonable compromise.

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"You do not need extra structural support for the ribcage. The wings could be very light (most are, whether natural or man-made). The body can be supported by its skin alone. It would take very little additional connection between wings and skin to either support the wings, or to have the wings support the body."

 

What, exactly, do you plan to hitch the flight muscles to?

It's not a matter of " jump straight to the most problematic scenario and then treat it like it's the only way"

It's a matter of physics.

The power needed to take off is dictated by the bodyweight.

That power needs to be provided by consumption of fuel.

that needs oxygen

Our lungs are not built to deliver that much oxygen: they are fundamentally differently designed compared to bird's.

 

Which of those is a " [some ridiculous made-up requirement]"?

Anything that pretends that we can do this is pretty much science fiction.

 

" but it's entirely conceivable to create lightweight wings that could fold up to the size of a backpack, and could be surgically connected to metal piercings on the back, could be useful for gliding in favorable conditions, could be controlled by the arms for steering and perhaps some lift, and could accompany some other form of lift or propulsion maybe connected to the legs."

Or you could stop messing about with piercings and get a hang glider.

But that's not what the OP was asking about is it?

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It's a matter of physics.

The power needed to take off is dictated by the bodyweight.

That power needs to be provided by consumption of fuel.

that needs oxygen

Our lungs are not built to deliver that much oxygen: they are fundamentally differently designed compared to bird's.

 

Which of those is a " [some ridiculous made-up requirement]"?

Anything that pretends that we can do this is pretty much science fiction.

You're perhaps imagining a human flapping its wings like a bird and taking off vertically and flying around like a bird and saying "tweet tweet".

I'm imagining a human attached to wings that are at the very least useful in some one specific circumstance. I'm thinking of the minimum that is at least physically possible, and then who knows what advancements can be made from there.

 

You don't need extra power to take off. You can glide off a tree (there are animals that do) or a hill.

I've already linked to proof that humans are physically capable of powering their own flight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-powered_aircraft). No "bodyweight!" or "oxygen!" arguments can disprove what's already been done.

 

Or you could stop messing about with piercings and get a hang glider.

But that's not what the OP was asking about is it?

Right, and the reason that OP's request is impossible for the foreseeable future is biological (http://www.angryflower.com/breakf.gif), it's not a matter of physics.

 

Physics is not restricted to the biological systems that exist today in nature. There are other ways to achieve winged flight, that are not physically identical to the way that birds fly.

 

Yes, perhaps hang-gliding capabilities are not what OP's after, but I'm trying to think of a compromise that is physically possible, not make up false explanations for why it's impossible.

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I don't mean to be so negative all the time, but why must everyone jump straight to the most problematic scenario and then treat it like it's the only way? It's not a lack of imagination, or a lack of logical thinking. I think that it must be a lack of critical problem-solving, or some kind of anti-problemsolving, where the goal isn't to come up with creative solutions, but rather build the biggest roadblocks. How many great achievements in science and engineering were dismissed as impossible by otherwise reasonable people, right up until someone with more drive and open-mindedness made it possible?

 

- Wings do not need nerves. They can be "dead" tissue.

- You do not need extra structural support for the ribcage. The wings could be very light (most are, whether natural or man-made). The body can be supported by its skin alone. It would take very little additional connection between wings and skin to either support the wings, or to have the wings support the body.

- You don't need new layers of muscles if there is a way to use existing muscles to provide power. You don't need to fly like any particular animal does now, so you don't need to move the wings like a bird does, or a bee, so you don't need to be built like one.

- Wings that are used for gliding only would require no new power, and would be at least "mildly functional".

All you are describing is dead skin. If they don't have nerves or bones they cannot move. So if this scenario accepts flying like a flying squirrel does, maybe. But that is not what the OP was describing at all.

Altering your DNA to grow functional, powered wings is mad-scientist fiction, but it's entirely conceivable to create lightweight wings that could fold up to the size of a backpack, and could be surgically connected to metal piercings on the back, could be useful for gliding in favorable conditions, could be controlled by the arms for steering and perhaps some lift, and could accompany some other form of lift or propulsion maybe connected to the legs. That could be done now. Who knows what advancements could be made in a lifetime, if someone were serious about it, and studied engineering and incorporated ongoing advances in materials and aircraft design.

Why grow them instead of just having a backpack that does the same thing?

All the "impossible because [some ridiculous made-up requirement]" just seems like attempts to shut down anyone who thinks way too far outside the box. OP's ideas are crazy and impractical, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a reasonable compromise.

Not at all, it's a description of problems to be overcome. I would love to see how someone gets around the problems, it would be amazing. But you do not solve a problem by ignoring problems it could cause, you find a way to solve or work around those problems. Would it not be ignorant if someone said they are going to build an internal combustion engine out of plastic, and no one told them that the plastic they wanted to use would melt under the heat? One could probably find a way to work around that, but without knowing they needed to they would only run into unending problems.
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"You don't need extra power to take off. You can glide off a tree (there are animals that do) or a hill."

 

 

And I saw the links about human powered flight. If you are a super-fit young adult with lots of training (and probably male) then you can indeed fly- for a short while.

Provided that you can "grow" the high performance composites and thin light weight films used in things like the gossamer albatross.

Of course, unlike that vehicle, you might want to make more than a handful of flights without needing the equivalent of major reconstructive surgery between each one.

That's why I wrote what I actually wrote,which was "Anything that pretends that we can do this is pretty much science fiction".

 

 

Anyway, re "What, exactly, do you plan to hitch the flight muscles to?"

I'm still waiting for a relpy.

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Would it not be ignorant if someone said they are going to build an internal combustion engine out of plastic, and no one told them that the plastic they wanted to use would melt under the heat?

It would be more ignorant for someone to explain that it would be "physically impossible" to build one.

 

If you are a super-fit young adult with lots of training (and probably male) then you can indeed fly- for a short while.

So... "physically impossible" then?

 

Also, if you had wings, you couldn't carry more than 2 pieces of luggage on a transatlantic flight without getting very tired. Therefore it is impractical physically impossible to fly.

 

I ACCEPT that OP can't "grow" wings and fly around like a bird! But that's no excuse to pile on other silly reasons why the plan wouldn't work and pretend that it's a limitation of physics! There are real limits in physics, but "you need flight muscles" or "you need a nervous system in the wings" or "you might want to make more than a handful of flights" are not limitations that are due to physics, and could be worked around.

 

That's why I wrote what I actually wrote,which was "Anything that pretends that we can do this is pretty much science fiction".

Any engineering advancement could be considered science fiction before it's made. That doesn't mean it can't be done.

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"So... "physically impossible" then?"

Unless you can evolve mylar and carbon fibre composites, yes.

"I ACCEPT that OP can't "grow" wings and fly around like a bird!"

Good, since that's what the thread is about, you accept that it's impossible.

Now, can you explain why you are arguing with those of us who not only said it's impossible, but explained why?

On second thoughts, don't bother.

 

"Any engineering advancement could be considered science fiction before it's made. That doesn't mean it can't be done."

Not really, no. That's why people make advances in engineering.

On the other hand, some things really can't be done.

You can't make the combustion chamber of a transatlantic jet plane from styrofoam.

 

And it remains true that "you need flight muscles" or, as I pointed out you have not really mastered flight- just falling with style.

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"So... "physically impossible" then?"

Unless you can evolve mylar and carbon fibre composites, yes.

"I ACCEPT that OP can't "grow" wings and fly around like a bird!"

Good, since that's what the thread is about, you accept that it's impossible.

Now, can you explain why you are arguing with those of us who not only said it's impossible, but explained why?

On second thoughts, don't bother.

 

It's true, I'm over-zealously latching on to a small point of contention here.

"It's a matter of physics" is the only point that I fully disagree with.

 

I am arguing, because I don't like how if people explain the right answer with the wrong explanations, they think they're being scientific.

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And I saw the links about human powered flight. If you are a super-fit young adult with lots of training (and probably male) then you can indeed fly- for a short while.

Actually, early pedal-powered flights were done by women to minimize weight while still using high leg power.

 

MIT's Daedalus "flew a distance of 71.5 mi (115.11 km) in 3 hours, 54 minutes"... a short while I guess. No extra flight muscles were attached.

 

I never said it would be physically impossible, I only gave examples of problems one would have to overcome.

Right, sorry I got too attached to the "physically impossible" idea when it was never said. Still, a solution would simply side-step all of your example problems with a better design. Edited by md65536
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You don't need extra power to take off. You can glide off a tree (there are animals that do) or a hill.

I've already linked to proof that humans are physically capable of powering their own flight (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human-powered_aircraft). No "bodyweight!" or "oxygen!" arguments can disprove what's already been done.

 

Having an external structure eliminates whatever effort is needed to maintain the proper "posture" for flying, which would come into play if said structure is part of the body.

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No, but an aeroplane was attached which rather puts it outside of the scope of the OP.

So it's a problem of biology, not physics?

 

Having an external structure eliminates whatever effort is needed to maintain the proper "posture" for flying, which would come into play if said structure is part of the body.

How much effort is that?
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Take a couple of 10 lb weights and hold them at arm's length, in the plane of your body, at 90 degrees to the floor. Then you tell me. I won't even suggest anything close to your body weight.

Why not remove the 10 lb weights from your wing design?

 

 

You're missing my point. My point is that these are all SPECULATIONS, the latest being that there is no possible wing design that approaches a passive posture. Yet if a speculation falls on the side of the right answer, it is treated as fact, even if it is demonstrably false.

 

These aren't scientific principles, they're challenges. You're answering why YOU would not be able to come up with a wing design, not why its impossible for someone else. In this case the challenge is that you'd have to deal with posture and balance, not that you'd need a specific minimum amount of effort to maintain a speculative "correct" posture.

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A massless person is not really a reasonable model for this.

I'm not sure what your point is. While airborne, wings support the body's weight, and the arms would not have to support any extra weight. While not airborne, supporting the weight of the wings at points on the ends of outstretched arms is extremely inefficient compared to other options. Either way, a support point on the back would be much more efficient. Supported at the back above the body's center of mass, with the body hanging free, the amount of extra effort to maintain posture in flight is equivalent to 0 lbs. While not in flight it could be similar to a backpack.

 

Again, assuming the worst, stupidest design you can think of does not prove that it is impossible.

Edited by md65536
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!

Moderator Note

 

Consistency

Would you stop making veiled insults and snide implications about other members. The rule is attack the argument and not the person. Please do not respond to this mod note in this thread. Report this post or PM a member of staff if you wish to complain. Any responses to this modnote may be removed to the trash can.

 

Hydrogen/helium sacs or work on yourself and get a girlfriend. smile.png

Egoism in society has gone rampid.

 

 

 

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I'll put this simply, even though this has already been said.

 

We don't have wings because we evolved from monkeys not crows, now if we evolved from crows it would have been a different story...

 

On the other hand if you want wings, that can be aranged. it would probably take years of reaserch, lots of painfull operations, and alot of unpleasent stuff (like learning not to fall hard).

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quetzalcoatlus

200-250kg estimated weight

so yes very large organisms can fly, the question is:

1. do you really want to

2. do you have the money to run a multi billion dollar research program over the span of decades, beat the anti- human GM lobby in at least 1 country(or just buy a country), and finish this project?

Edited by dmaiski
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Insects have extra appendages that allow them to fly. All vertebrates, to my knowledge, that capable of true flight have traded their front limbs in for a set of wings, both birds and bats. There are gliding animals like the flying squirrel that make use of extra skin, but this is not true flight. Even if you were able to manipulate DNA in such a way to alter your limbs to approximate wings, you'd be giving up your arms, not having them sprout out of your back. Then you'd need pectoral muscles roughly 6 feet long or so to generate enough lift to get you off the ground. If you were satisfied with gliding, I guess you could use modern plastic surgery techniques ramped up to horrific levels to stretch your skin enough to make a human wing suit... I couldn't tell you the aerodynamics of how that would go for you, but I can guarantee you sailing through the air via your extra skin will not make you the graceful pixie you imagine. Then you'd still have to land. So you'd be a huge ball of flapping skin attached to a parachute, which would make a great video game villain in a survival horror series, I think.
So, you can think on it all you want, you're not going to sprout wings out of your back any more than you're going to develop glands capable of sending you backwards through time.

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Im back, i never got any emails for this thread, im not sure if im even receiving them anymore, but anyways, i like how md proposed several solutions. I really appreciate the effort. I think it would be really cool to have wings, and no they dont need to be biological. Im not sure if I would want to surgically attach them to my body unless it was absolutely necessary. But if we were able to make it mechanically functional and light, i could put a program together that would monitor activity in the context in order to produce a probable output (such as flapping the wings). I have the algorithm for a conversational system, and i think that the method i use to generate output can be used in many different domains for many different uses, one of which would be to provide an interface between biological systems and mechanical systems that would allow the biological creature to have control of the mechanical device. This algorithm can be used for other things too like artificial kidneys and artificial hearts. Possibly artificial lungs, but its unclear to me how to make that work.

Edited by Popcorn Sutton
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