Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tohoku University Researchers Designing a Sonic Boom Proof Plane

Dvice is great at finding far out science news, and they haven't let us down this time either!

Researchers at Tohoku University are researching designs for planes that can fly faster than the speed of sound. If you're old enough, and lived anywhere near a fair sized airport, you remember the very common occurrence of a plane breaking the sound barrier. Most of the time they were high enough that you heard a whump, but low enough and fast enough and you could have widows broken or material knocked off of shelves. The seventies saw laws prohibiting generating a boom over populated areas.

So it was quieter but it limited how fast you could fly from a to b. It goes without saying that commercial aviation, areo-space, NASA and others are interested in how to lessen sonic booms. Up to this point the rule of thumb was to keep the sonic blast to a minimum, long, skinny and pointy were the rules of the day.

However as you can see by the picture of Tohoku University's concept, none of the "laws" were followed. Instead of a long swept back wing, their concept plane is a bi-plane, with an engine module looking for all the world like a VW Vanagon flipped on it's side and shoved between the wings. And atop it all sits the cockpit and passenger compartment.

The bi-plane design should generate tons of drag, however MIT engineers have designed the wings leading edge to be bumpy which seems to cut drag way down.

Read the complete Dvice article here

No comments: