Researchers trying to find out more about how birds fly so we might one day be able to make better drones or flying suits so we can all fly about like Superman claim to have made a breakthrough, thanks to making a little parrot fly through a field of lasers. And they put a lickle wickle set of goggles on it so it looked all cute.
It was done by graduate students at Stanford, who think the assumptions people have been making about the way birds generate lift are quite wrong. Hence a video with a funny animal in it:
As well as the lasers, the bird was flapping through tiny aerosol particles it disturbed with its wing movements. And it's these vortices the flaps make that the team thinks are so important to our understanding of how birds, even big fat ones, can get themselves up into the sky.
Mechanical engineer and laser/bird tinkerer sssss said: "Many people look at the results in the animal flight literature for understanding how robotic wings could be designed better. Now, we’ve shown that the equations that people have used are not as reliable as the community hoped they were. We need new studies, new methods to really inform this design process much more reliably." [Stanford]