The science doesn’t have to be exact to be beautiful.
Digital artist Eleanor Lutz is on a roll. After taking a year off from college to pursue her two passions — science and art — she has been creating beautiful infographics that have been going viral.
First she created a lovely infographic of the bioluminescent tree of life. Then she stepped up her game and gave us an animated poster of North American butterflies. Lutz’s latest is another colorful and animated masterpiece of information and creativity: animal flight videos deconstructed.
It’s important to point out that Lutz is the first to admit that this isn’t a perfect representation of animal flight mechanics, nor is it necessarily 100 percent accurate. “This week’s post isn’t entirely scientific, but I thought I’d upload it anyway since it’s related to animals and patterns in nature,” she says on her website. But the infographic is a great way to show the rudimentary physics of flight. For example, the flight requirements of the Canadian goose — long-distance flying — are very different from those of the hummingbird — darting and hovering — and you can get a sense of how those difference are reflected by the animals’ wing motions.
And Lutz isn’t simply messing around with Photoshop here. From her website:
I found slow-motion videos of five flying species, and mapped out specific points on the wings during one wingbeat. I ended up with 15 frames per wingbeat, and I connected every frame using imaginary curves that went through all of the 15 mapped points.
15 points of motion tracking is never going to be as gorgeous or as informative as watching a hummingbird flap in glorious slow motion, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better representation of all that information in one pleasant and very sharable animated image.
You can grab a (non-animated, obviously) poster version here.