Science meets Art: Flight of the Dandelion

At the Biology Form and Function Lab we discovered a new method of flight never seen before in nature (published in Nature Journal). My contribution included analysing the structural qualities of plants to examine fluid dynamics, plant dispersal and aerodynamics. I investigated how evolutionary mechanisms influence how we design and engineer solutions.

One of the ways that I tested the plant material was through creating a series of experiments including moisture induced assays. I set up time-lapses (below) which allowed me to quantify the change of pappus angle over time using Python. Not only is the dandelion aesthetics beautiful but analysing the physiological response to tiny water droplets may have implications for plant dispersal methods! I further experimented to 3D scan the dandelion dispersal unit aiming to represent and recreate the structure in a fragile and fine material such as crafting with glass.

I was really excited by the results that I got in the lab, so I built a weather station so that I could monitor environmental conditions at ground and plant level! It was was fascinating to compare the results!

Pappus of Taraxacum officinale during humidity chamber experiment .
I conducted several experiments and create a humidity chamber to produce visually compelling imagers that quantified the how the pappus responds to a range of environmental conditions. This was fascinating from an engineering and design perspective as well as having implications for methods of plant dispersal.
Taraxacum officinale diagram of dispersal of fruit
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