An owl bursting through a cloud of bubbles is helping researchers better understand the aerodynamics of flight. Researchers in London have discovered a new way in which birds use their tail to provide lift and so reduce drag while gliding. They tracked the swirling motion of more than 20,000 helium-filled soap bubbles as they were displaced by birds of prey in flight. Their findings could provide a new way to improve the efficiency of small gliding aircraft.

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