The Dutch word for enthousiastic is ‘bevlogen’. This word also has the word flying in it and it is the best word to describe Hester Bijl. On the 21st of April she stood before us, flapping her arms, showing us how the open and close movements of wings differ from each other. She was also mimicking what a butterfly does (clapping its wings) to give itself an extra push upwards. Until now, people have made flying devices with stiff wings that do not work anything like the flapping wings you find in nature. An insect’s wing consists of a very thin membrane and blood vessels. The blood vains can swell up; this will influence the flight. Now a machine with flapping wings is created; the Delfly, a small insect-like flying device. Nobody really understands yet how flapping works. Simulation is used to get a grip on this subject, involving a lot of mathematics. The Delfly can be geered up with a small camera. It can be used to monitor airports for example. If something is wrong, a whole swarm of them can gather. Or maybe they can even be put to use to check whether there are still people in a burning building! They are also great as toys. As Hester told us, it will be unlikely that in the future we will board a plane that has flapping wings as well, because for big things other laws apply than for small things. Even for someone not remotely interested in the subject this was a very interesting presentation; she captured the attention of everyone. She made complicated stuff comprehensible by comparing it with things that everyone can relate to; why don’t you stick your arm out of a car window, change the angle of your arm and see what happens?
At the end of the evening we had this fabulous cake to celebrate our 1st birthday!