Honeybees, as Robert Krulwich recently reported, might be one of the most efficient aerialists around. But the physics of bee flight has been the subject of urban legend and confusion for years: When aloft, do bees somehow violate the laws of aerodynamics, or are their wings an extraordinary, if unconventional, flight mechanism? A Discovery Channel Time Warp video offers some of the most beautiful proof that bees do fly. Shooting at over 2,000 frames per second, Time Warp's high-speed camera showed a bee fervently flapping its wings.
The fascination with slow motion photography has a long history — about as long as the history of photography itself.
The story goes that in 1872, American tycoon Leland Stanford enlisted Eadweard Muybridge, the famed and ill-fated photographer, to help him prove a hunch that galloping horses lift all their hooves off the ground.
Using 24 individual cameras triggered by trip lines, Muybridge produced a series of photos, called "Sallie Gardner at a Gallop", that definitively proved Stanford's hunch.
The Horse in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge (Courtesy of Library of Congress)
By lining up the photos in a zoopraxiscope, a device that played early motion pictures, viewers could watch the horse gallop over and over again — four hooves in flight. Muybridge made a career out of this type of photography, and his innovations made him a leading pioneer in the history of film.
We've come a long way since Muybridge, but even with ultra-high speed cameras, it's clear we're still fascinated by the simplest motions at the slowest speeds.
Nate is an intern with NPR's science desk.