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Isosceles Triangles

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Triangles in the Sky
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Credit: Vincent Huang
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s_y_s/2770329247/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

What’s that isosceles triangle doing in the sky? Some of the world’s most advanced aircraft are based on triangles. These futuristic airplanes, sometimes referred to as “stealth bombers,” look nothing like typical jets. In fact, some people suspect that the planes are behind many UFO sightings.

Why Triangles Make Better Planes

The stealth bomber's triangular shape increases lift and decreases drag. This means that the plane needs less energy to fly than a typical jet. As a result, it can fly nearly 7,000 miles before it refuels. It’s also quieter than many planes, so its approach can seem surreal. Finally, its triangular shape and the angles on its body make the stealth bomber nearly invisible to radar. No wonder people sometimes mistake it for a piece of alien technology!

Credit: David Williss
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwilliss/8543417316
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Engineers got the idea for the stealth bomber by observing nature. Many flocks of birds fly in isosceles triangles. Scientists realized that flying in this formation helps the birds conserve energy over long flights. By seeing how triangles work in nature, the engineers were able to improve their own designs.

Today, aircraft engineers are trying to develop new designs based on the triangle. Some of these experimental planes make the stealth bomber seem old fashioned!

See for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riBtGUDLD9w

Explore More

Learn more about the X48-C plane and its innovative design.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/multimedia/imagegallery/X-48C/

http://www.gizmag.com/x-48c-blended-wing-body-campaign-completed/27066/

http://www.boeing.com/Features/2012/08/corp_x48_08_07_12.html

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Vincent Huang; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s_y_s/2770329247/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: David Williss; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwilliss/8543417316; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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