typodupeerror

## Airspeed Velocity Of An Unladen Swallow321

Posted by timothy
from the but-swallow's-not-on-the-list dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Finally, the question is answered: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? A designer with too much time on his hands uses his new method for graphically representing Strouhal numbers to clarify a truly pressing question for all armchair zoologists (and a few Monty Python fans)."
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## Airspeed Velocity Of An Unladen Swallow

• #### Don't give the numbers... (Score:4, Insightful)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:01AM (#7509332) Homepage
I hate to say it, but this is one of those things like the explanation of where the immortals in Highlander came from -- we didn't actually want to know.
• #### Re:Don't give the numbers... (Score:2)

I wasn't saying it was bad...just that the Python thing is magical - and that it shouldn't be explained (like Highlander).
• #### Re:Don't give the numbers... (Score:2)

Ahhhh....

Reverence for the Pythons!

Puts me in mind of, "His sandle," "No, his gourd!"

I have, many times, read the pedants on /. lecture about the correct application of the term "irony".
I beleive we now have a most stirling example!

To all of this, I say, "NNNNNNEEeeeeee!"

• #### Re:Don't give the numbers... (Score:2, Funny)

Actually it's "Ni" ;)
• #### Re:Don't give the numbers... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:20AM (#7509410)
I hate to say it, but this is one of those things like the explanation of where the immortals in Highlander came from -- we didn't actually want to know.

That's not the point. If seek out the most forgotten cave and you install there a switch with the inscription "Doomsday switch - Press here to destroy earth", it's only a matter of time till someone comes by and presses it.

Humans are curious like young cats. And the /.'ers are the worst of all ;-).

Regards, Martin

• #### A matter of time? (Score:2)

Like Terry Pratchett said, the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.
• #### Re:A matter of time? (Score:3, Funny)

Like Terry Pratchett said, the paint wouldn't even have time to dry.

Probably you would be run over and beaten afterwards by people who would complain, that the switch doesn't work. If the switch worked, they would complain too (about lax security measures) if they still could.

Bye, Martin

• #### Re:Don't give the numbers... (Score:2)

I agree. We need to know about the velocity of an unladen swallow like we need to know about the midichlorian origins of the Force.
• #### Had to be said... (Score:4, Funny)

<max@romantschuk.fi> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:01AM (#7509334) Homepage
NONE! ... Shall pass...
• #### Re:Had to be said... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:52AM (#7509495) Journal
That's what my University tutor used to say about the exams :(
• #### WoW ! (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:02AM (#7509341)
A 54-year survey of 26,285 European Swallows captured and released by the Avian Demography Unit of the University of Capetown finds that the average adult European swallow has a wing length of 12.2 cm and a body mass of 20.3 grams.

54 years? That's amazing, i think I could copy that research with a shotgun, a measuring tool and a free sunday afternoon.
• #### Entirely too ambiguous! (Score:4, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:03AM (#7509342)
Finally, the question is answered: What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?
Well, was it a European or an African swallow??
• #### RTFA. European. :-) (Score:2)

That's the first question answered in the article. It's about an European swallow.
• #### Re:Entirely too ambiguous! (Score:2)

Doesn't matter. Swallow wasn't on the list.
• #### Re:Entirely too ambiguous! (Score:4, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @08:33PM (#7516542)
What?? I don't know that.. I didn't read the articaaaaaAAAAAAAHHH!
• #### Ignobel awards (Score:5, Interesting)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:04AM (#7509349) Journal
... looks like someone's pushing for recognition :-)

Simon
• #### Finally.. (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:04AM (#7509350)
I decided to try to answer one of the timeless questions of science: just what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow

Yes, finally someone had the balls to answer this question that has been wracking the minds of scientists for ages!

Someone get this man a nobel.

• #### Re:Finally.. (Score:3, Funny)

Next up... figure out how to employ sheeps' bladders to prevent earthquakes.
• #### Re:Finally.. (Score:2, Funny)

Yes, but is the Earth banana shaped? Certainly does seem to make sense.
• #### And now for something completely different (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:51AM (#7509492)
For his next article, can he tell us if the parrot is dead?
• #### Re:And now for something completely different (Score:3, Funny)

Without opening the box, only within certain probability.
• #### Re:And now for something completely different (Score:2)

It's not pinin'! It's passed on! This OS is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! *BSD is an ex-operating system!!

Oops, that was the wrong Dead * Sketch.
• #### Already nominated him for an IgNobel (Score:2)

and the committee has acked the nomination. Dunno if he makes the finalists, but I sure as hell think he deserves one. :-)
• #### It's the European swallow (Score:5, Informative)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:07AM (#7509360) Homepage Journal
just so you know
• #### Re:It's the European swallow (Score:2, Funny)

No way. An african swallow maybe, but they're not talking 'bout a european swallow.
• #### for some reason it doesn't sit well with me (Score:2, Funny)

While the intentions are good, the only truly elegant answers for a question like this would be a related to "42" While a laden swallow would most likely be "69" - one can only guess how it would be unladen
• #### No problem! (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:48AM (#7509619) Journal
11 m/s is approximately 21 knots. So the combined airspeed of two European swallows is... (drumroll) 42 knots.
• #### Re:for some reason it doesn't sit well with me (Score:3, Funny)

The article ends with an answer of roughly 11 meter per second. Given some a priori reasoning about the universality of the metric system and the Answer, we can deduce that the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow quite likely is a bit higher, namely 11 2/3 meter per second. This comfortably equates to 42 kilometers per hour, and the circle is closed.
• #### What does it mean? (Score:4, Informative)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:30AM (#7509435) Homepage
Incedibly it seems as if some /.'ers are missing the reference. It's all about Monty Python and the Holy Grail [imdb.com]

The relevant pieces in the script :
A swallow carrying a coconut? [mwscomp.com] and The Bridge of Death [mwscomp.com]

• #### Thank you, captain obvious! (Score:2, Funny)

You have saved us all!
• #### Re:What does it mean? (Score:2)

by vr (9777)
Uh.. Yeah. And this: http://www.mwscomp.com/movies/grail/grail-23.htm

BRIDGEKEEPER:
What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

ARTHUR:
What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

BRIDGEKEEPER:
Huh? I-- I don't know that. Auuuuuuuugh!
• #### Re:What does it mean? (Score:2, Insightful)

by Anonymous Coward
I think I speak for everybody here when I say that if you didn't get the reference then this isn't the website for you.
• #### Re:What does it mean? (Score:2)

Odd, I just enjoy open source software and tech news in general.

I couldn't give a damn how many pets you have named Eric.
• #### How to lie with charts. (Score:4, Informative)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:30AM (#7509438) Journal
To imply similarity, make the graph larger than it needs to be [nature.com]. Then all of your points will fall in a narrow range and appear closer together.

For this and other presentation crocks, read How to Lie with Charts [amazon.com], and its fore-runners, How to Lie with Statistics [amazon.com] and How to Lie with Maps [amazon.com].
• #### Re:How to lie with charts. (Score:3, Funny)

Do they have one that shows how to lie with girls?
• #### But how big does our graph "need to be"? (Score:2)

To imply similarity, make the graph larger than it needs to be. Then all of your points will fall in a narrow range and appear closer together.

Looks like the zebra finch data set was small, pushing the top of the y axis to three times the top Strouhal number for anything on it. I'd call this clumsy more than misleading, but you're right -- it does conveniently push everything down to the bottom, doesn't it? The whole "narrowness of the band" line of argument fits that a little too well...

A classic case

• #### Okay, that's 2 questiones answered (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:34AM (#7509444) Journal
But what is your favourite colour?
• #### It's right at the bottom of the page (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:48AM (#7509476) Journal

Blue

• #### Re:It's right at the bottom of the page (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:04AM (#7509529)
No, green! *AHHHHHH!*

• #### Re:It's right at the bottom of the page (Score:2)

Which cheese? [ironworks.com]
• #### Re:It's right at the bottom of the page (Score:3, Funny)

Wait, no, red!
• #### Re:Okay, that's 2 questiones answered (Score:3, Funny)

I can just see the Perl monks coming by, in full regalia, smacking their heads on O'Reilly books and singing that stupid chant from Monty Python, now that this has been answered.
• #### The Far Side version (Score:2)

What's the average rainfall of the Amazon basin?
• #### the air speed of an unladen swallow? 42 ft/sec! (Score:3, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @04:55AM (#7509504) Homepage
Now that we finally know the right question to match the ultimate answer, I suppose the universe can end.

Somehow it does not surprise me that Douglas Adams and the Monty Python crew are the secret masters of the universe. ;-)
• #### If there was ever a day to RTFA.... (Score:4, Informative)

<slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:01AM (#7509521)
Either I've been trolled really well, or this is actually really good stuff. RTFA slashdotters, this Strouhal write-up is actually a really good/interesting read. They've basically come up with a simple formula to describe efficient flight for all animals, regardless of size. Really interesting stuff.

• #### Re:If there was ever a day to RTFA.... (Score:2)

I'm curious: Did anyone one get confused and a little suspicious of the style article's equations? It seemed like an awful lot of his work was "Well, I got this number doing it this way and that number doing it that way, so let's just average the two together and pretend it's right. And then I looked it up and it's actually a third number number, so we'll average this in there as well".

I assume the article was mostly just in good humor, but it still left me scratching my head in confusion.
• #### Inside Knowledge... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @05:37AM (#7509596) Homepage
This is so cool. Now, the next time we put Holy Grail in the DVD player, I can watch the scene and be like,

"Actually, that's not correct."

If there were any chicks at these MP parties, I am sure it would go over well.
• #### Those responsible ... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @06:16AM (#7509679)
Those responsible for the posting of this link and subsequent slashdotting of the site have been sacked.

The site has now been mirrored by karma whores on numerous different hosts at great expense and at the last minute.

• #### Bird size (Score:2)

I looked at the Strouhal numbers link, and what
immediately struck me is that there is no correction for bird size.

The wingspan (amplitude) is in the equation, but not for this (it is used as a factor to determine the thrust)

I'd expect the friction factor and a measure for the size of the bird (e.g. surface that is seen from the front) in there.

• #### I'll give it a try (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @07:24AM (#7509837)
"Look my liege! Charts describing Strouhal numbers and swallows!"
*trumpets*
"Charts!"
"Charts!"
"It' s only a model."
"Shhh!"
• #### Speed, not Velocity (Score:3)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @07:41AM (#7509880)
You might be able to calculate the speed of a swallow, but the velocity is something different.
• #### Capital of Assyria (Score:2, Interesting)

Might as well go completely off-topic on a story like this.

The bonus question was, what's the capital of Assyria? One of the answers was Nineveh, which in the Bible is where God sent Jonah to warn the city's inhabitants of their impending destruction unless they repented of their evil ways. Jonah, who hated the Assyrians and didn't want Nineveh to have a chance to escape destruction, fled to Spain instead (about as far away as he could get), hoping God wouldn't be able to find him there. That obviously
• #### Re:Capital of Assyria (Score:2)

It is a well known fact that they slapped people with fish [jonahmovie.com] on a regular basis.
• #### Re:Capital of Assyria (Score:3, Informative)

http://www.grmi.org/renewal/Richard_Riss/evidence s /8jonah.html [grmi.org].

One of the interesting facts is that there are several documented cases of people swallowed alive by whales who lived to tell the story; and yes, there are historical documents according to the article that support this story, one of which is cited as being from the Babylonian historian Berosus.
• #### The other bonus question and answer (Score:5, Funny)

<rustyp@freeshell.COBOLorg minus language> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @12:16PM (#7511816) Homepage Journal
How can sheep's bladders be used to prevent earthquakes?

Just consider the facts:
B: What causes earthquakes?
A: Sudden slippage along a fault line

B: Ah, but WHY does that cause earthquakes?
A: Because it's a lot of ground moving?

B: No, try again.
A: Because it doesn't slip smoothly?

B: Yes, that's right. So...logically...
A: We could prevent it if we got it to slip smoothly?

B: And what do you slip on all of the time?
A: Sheep urine?

B: Absolutely. And where do you find sheep urine?

B: Therefore...
A: If we stick sheep bladders into a fault line, it'll prevent earthquakes!

A: Thank you, Bedevere. Good insight.
B: My pleasure, Oh King.
• #### For the Monty Python Ignorant.... (Score:5, Funny)

on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @07:48AM (#7509900) Homepage
GUARD #1: Where'd you get the coconut?
ARTHUR: We found them.
GUARD #1: Found them? In Mercea? The coconut's tropical!
ARTHUR: What do you mean?
GUARD #1: Well, this is a temperate zone.
ARTHUR: The swallow may fly south with the sun or the house martin or the plumber may seek warmer climes in winter yet these are not strangers to our land.
GUARD #1: Are you suggesting coconuts are migratory?
ARTHUR: Not at all, they could be carried.
GUARD #1: What -- a swallow carrying a coconut?
ARTHUR: It could grip it by the husk!
GUARD #1: It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a 1 pound coconut.
ARTHUR: Well, it doesn't matter. Will you go and tell your master that Arthur from the Court of Camelot is here.
GUARD #1: Listen, in order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings 43 times every second, right?
GUARD #1: Am I right?
ARTHUR: I'm not interested!
GUARD #2: It could be carried by an African swallow!
GUARD #1: Oh, yeah, an African swallow maybe, but not a European swallow, that's my point.
GUARD #2: Oh, yeah, I agree with that...
ARTHUR: Will you ask your master if he wants to join my court at Camelot?!
GUARD #1: But then of course African swallows are not migratory.
GUARD #2: Oh, yeah...
GUARD #1: So they couldn't bring a coconut back anyway...

GUARD #2: Wait a minute -- supposing two swallows carried it together?
GUARD #1: No, they'd have to have it on a line.
GUARD #2: Well, simple! They'd just use a standard creeper!
GUARD #1: What, held under the dorsal guiding feathers?
GUARD #2: Well, why not?
• #### RFC 1149 (Score:2)

Can RFC 1149 [ietf.org] (or the more advanced 2549 [ietf.org]) be related somehow?
• #### Of others news, (Score:2)

There is final and conclusive proof that they were arrested for a crime they could not have committed. The proof? The guy who killed the historian had a horse, not coconuts!
• #### An awful lot of effort... (Score:2, Informative)

To go through all this math and such when

A) you can divide the distance traveled by the swallow by the time it took to travel that distance, or

B) you can use a radar gun to measure speed directly

(Especially when, if you read the article, there is mention that "wind tunnel tests" of swallows showed that their estimates were off (espeically on beat frequency). And they actually used speed measurements to validate their model. Hrm. Seems like an awful lot of work to me...)

My apologies. I'm a bit cynical

• #### What?! Informative?! (Score:3, Funny)

<[moc.liamg] [ta] [nrohr.eht]> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @08:40AM (#7510097) Homepage Journal
To those who got modded +1 Informative:

NI!!!!

(damn you people, you're killing the moment!!!)
• #### Air-speed velocity? (Score:2, Interesting)

The thing that always bugged me about this scene in the movie is the term, "air-speed velocity". Isn't that kind of redundant?

Then again, I'm the kind who yells at the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz whenever he tells us [geocities.com]
"The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side."

JoAnn
• #### Re:Air-speed velocity? (Score:2, Interesting)

The "airspeed velocity" also struck me, but no it isn't redundant. It is contradictory. Speed and velocity are different things. (Speed is a scalar,
velocity a vector).
• #### Edward Tufte Award (Score:2)

The website [style.org] deserves a Tufte [edwardtufte.com] award for Excellence in the presentation of visual information [slashdot.org]. Very impressive effort!

Though, no, such an award does not yet exist.
• #### Beautiful Plumage! (Score:2)

They needed education like this in school.

Funny premise, so I stuck with it, built off of physics 101 ideas of waves (amplitude, freq.), and GOOD LORD! I learned something!
• #### MathML? Could it be? (Score:2)

You know, I got really excited when I saw the equations in the article... They looked too clean to be GIFs, so I thought that maybe it was MathML, the "holy grail" of mathematical HTML! I thought the world was complete. However, my aspirations were quickly dashed when I viewed the source, and saw that the equations were merely well-crafted CSS.

Lemon Curry?
• #### Just explain this... (Score:3, Funny)

<.me. .at. .jory.org.> on Wednesday November 19, 2003 @12:52PM (#7512074) Homepage
Now if only someone explain how to chop down the largest tree in the forest using only a HERRING!

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