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Contact: Kathy Svitil
California Institute of Technology

Tornado-like Vortex Visualized on Top of a Freely Flying Maple Seed

Caption: Smoke particles in a wind tunnel illuminated with laser light around a freely flying maple seed reveal a prominent leading edge vortex. The visualization of the leading edge vortex on this and 31 other specimens of maple seeds show that the robotic model maple seeds accurately predicted the presence of a strong tornado-like vortex on top of maple seed wings, that elevates the lift generated by autorotating plant seeds and increases their dispersal distance from the tree.

Credit: Photo courtesy of David Lentink

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

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