Thursday, July 25, 2024

What tech discovered from Daedalus

After all, Langford’s workforce modified among the legendary parameters. The plane changed feathers and wax with carbon-­fiber wings, and the pilot, the Greek bicycle owner Kanellos Kanellopoulos, didn’t flap his means into historical past—he pedaled. Plus, the 500-mile journey to Sicily appeared past mortal capability, so Langford and his workforce set their sights on Santorini.

The issue with the Daedalus undertaking, and human-powered plane of any sort, is the grueling effort to stay aloft, the danger of crashing, and the expense—none of which was misplaced on Langford. “In itself, our Daedalus undertaking might by no means reply the query ‘So what?’” he admits.

On the time, unseen clouds of human-­generated chlorofluorocarbons, gathering in Earth’s stratosphere for half a century, had blasted a seasonal gap within the protecting ozone layer over Antarctica, signifying a catastrophe unfolding throughout Earth’s environment. Because the international neighborhood rallied, the “So what?” he was in search of emerged.

To Langford, an entrepreneur whose twin passions are local weather analysis and sustainable aeronautics, the right airplane is an unmanned aerial car capable of ply the stratosphere, accumulate local weather information akin to ozone readings, and harness the solar for its power wants. Aurora Flight Sciences, his first firm, unveiled such a airplane, Odysseus, in 2018. His newest firm, Electra, desires to decarbonize all aviation.

{That a} human-powered airplane capable of fly mere meters above the ocean for a handful of hours managed to encourage solar-­powered robotic planes that constantly comb Earth’s stratosphere might make sense solely within the context of our local weather challenges. Such novel plane symbolize the power of human beings to attain mythic feats when joined in a standard quest, nonetheless daunting.

Invoice Gourgey is a science author based mostly in Washington, DC, and teaches science writing at Johns Hopkins College.

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