Monday, February 25, 2013

Neutral Buoyancy

From time to time in this book blog I will ask for your help. I expect to do that when it is time to settle on a book title and maybe when testing covers. Today I need more than opinion. I need expertise.

Does anyone have a contact who I could talk with about the physics of flight? I don’t care about jets and hang gliders, just birds. I am acquainted with a couple of raptor experts, so maybe that is where I need to go. The rub is that I need to describe a method of flight that is quite unlike that of raptors.

The characters in my book are flying creatures. I call them anjels because that is evocative to anyone familiar with Christian mythology. It is shorthand to build an instant image in your mind. Then, throughout the book, I chip away at that image until the reader fully recognizes that these people are far removed from angels. 

My anjels achieve flight the same way a gas balloon does. At various times during the day they weigh more or less, depending on when they've last consumed a bulb from the freenel plant. Most often they are neutrally buoyant. That is, they drift around with little need of wing movement to stay in the air. Unlike many raptors they do not depend at all on thermals.

The problem I need to work out is how this may affect diving. Raptors are light, but they still weigh something. They will drop like a rock if they position their wings to do so. This is handy if you want to build momentum for a strike. How might a neutrally buoyant flyer do that?

I’m looking for a plausible way to achieve a strike while a hunting anjel remains buoyant. Without any weight behind them, what difficulties might they have?

I have a way to avoid this problem completely and I am willing to use it, but it will change at least one major plot point and require some rewriting. 

Does anyone have personal knowledge or a good contact?

No comments:

Post a Comment