Fantastic Feathers: Form and Function

Tuesday, January 23, 2024 at 11:00am to 12:00pm

Building 4, 4-163
182 MEMORIAL DR (REAR), Cambridge, MA 02139

When we think of birds, we think of feathers. Feathers give birds their color, from the bright red of a male Cardinal to the iridescent reds and greens of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Feathers keep birds warm and dry: down provides excellent insulation against heat loss and water really does roll off a duck’s back. Feathers form the aerodynamic shape of the wing, enabling flight. A Barn Owl’s flight feathers suppress sound, allowing it to fly nearly silently, while its ruff feathers reflect and focus sound into its ears, enabling the owl to hunt in total darkness by sound alone. This talk describes how the microscopic structure of feathers gives rise to their remarkable properties.

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School of Engineering (SoE)


birds, materials science, feathers

Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE)
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Lorna Gibson:

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