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I am not sure why this story is thought to be so significant in some circles, but I have heard it several times myself. It is, of course self-contradictory and certainly not suportive of any particular position on origins. The following was posted to an entomological discussion list. I include it because it is an oft heard story which is, of course, nonsense in its ususal context.

Bumblebees CAN fly! The oft heard ridicule of scientists that say a bumble cannot fly because its wings are too small, in spite of the evidence of their own eyes, is based on a misrepresentation of an incident that occurred in the 1930s. McMasters (in the Amer. Sci. 77:164-169) reports that a noted Swiss professor of aerodynamics at a dinner party with biologists was asked about the aerodynamics of wasp and bee wings. He performed some calculation for the bumblebee based on a smooth wing and got a low Reynolds number "proving" the bee incapable of flight. He obviously knew that the calculations were simplistic, and later (after examining a wing under a microscope and noting the bent and folded nature of the wing), corrected his error, but like the news media of today, the correction received little notice.

"Be sure you're right, then look again!" John Henry Comstock


Ó 2010 Arthur V. Chadwick, Ph.D.