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Contact: Kathy Svitil
California Institute of Technology

Maple Seed Swirling Through the Air

Caption: When maple seeds become airborne they pick up downward speed and start to spin around their center of gravity, which is located in the nut. This spinning motion is induced by the airflow around the seed as it descends to the ground. Because the spinning, helicopter-like, motion of the maple seeds arises automatically, it is called autorotation. The autorotation slows down the descent of the seed such that the seed can be carried further away from the tree by wind.

Credit: David Lentink

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Related news release: Maple seeds and animals exploit the same trick to fly

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