What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

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What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby bachaddict » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:18 pm UTC

Pizza Bird

Tina Nguyen wrote: My boyfriend recently took a flight on a plane with wifi, and while he was up there, wistfully asked if I could send him a pizza. I jokingly sent him a photo of a parrot holding a pizza slice in its beak. Obviously, my boyfriend had to go without pizza until he landed at JFK. But this raised the question: could a bird deliver a standard 20" New York-style cheese pizza in a box? And if so, what kind of bird would it take?


Image

...I have a new question: would an ornithopter drone be faster than a quadcopter? Would it be any better at delivering to planes, or to futuristic airships of the future?

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Apr 08, 2016 10:55 pm UTC

bachaddict wrote:Live feeds are cool. When there's cool stuff happening on them.


Suddenly I want a continental drift live-feed...

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby wolfticket » Sat Apr 09, 2016 12:45 am UTC

...An African or European Swallow?

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Durandal_1707 » Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:59 am UTC

I feel like there'd be a risk of the bird adding... extra toppings to the pizza if it carried it in the fashion illustrated above.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Pfhorrest » Sat Apr 09, 2016 3:05 am UTC

This question failed to consider the matter of where he grips it. It's not like pizza boxes have a husk. Could it rig something up with a line of creeper?
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby lorb » Sat Apr 09, 2016 9:38 am UTC

Isn't the drawing of the "mile-long mechanism" wrong? If the mechanism is attached to the plane it has the same speed and having the bird drop the pizza where it's drawn has the same problem as not using the mechanism at all. It would have to drop the pizza at the point closest to the plane so the pizza can grab onto the mechanism, but slide back behind the plane while accelerating and then get it back inside?
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Flumble » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:29 pm UTC

I think the drawing simply depicts a plane using a pizza at the end of a long reel to bait a bird.
Or the bird has just dropped off the pizza and the reel is in the process of extending, which would explain why the bird is still so close and why the reel doesn't look like a mile long (it's barely 4 planes long, which is less than 1/6th of the final reel length).

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby cellocgw » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:37 pm UTC

lorb wrote:Isn't the drawing of the "mile-long mechanism" wrong? If the mechanism is attached to the plane it has the same speed and having the bird drop the pizza where it's drawn has the same problem as not using the mechanism at all. It would have to drop the pizza at the point closest to the plane so the pizza can grab onto the mechanism, but slide back behind the plane while accelerating and then get it back inside?


naah, have a small drogue at the end of the line, so the net (I added that) next to the drogue is slowed to birdspeed -- the plane can keep speed up, since we've already fielded FOG-M (fiber-optic guided missiles) which can reel out fiber at missile speeds.
Once the pizza's in the net, just reel it in.


Anyway, this whole column managed to get "Fly Like an Eagle" stuck in my head. Quick someone name a song about pizza!
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby ManaUser » Sat Apr 09, 2016 7:39 pm UTC

lorb wrote:Isn't the drawing of the "mile-long mechanism" wrong? If the mechanism is attached to the plane it has the same speed and having the bird drop the pizza where it's drawn has the same problem as not using the mechanism at all. It would have to drop the pizza at the point closest to the plane so the pizza can grab onto the mechanism, but slide back behind the plane while accelerating and then get it back inside?

It's not quite clear, but perhaps what they do is launch the grapnel (and Harrison Ford?) backwards at nearly 500 mph to match speed with the bird, and then gradually add tension to the line such that the pizza is brought up to plane speed just as the line reaches its maximum length of one mile. Supporting this interpretation, is that the line only appears to be around 1000 feet long currently (based on the length of a typical airliner).

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby ruurdjan » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:10 am UTC

I'll just leave this here.
Spoiler:
Image


First thing I heard opening the link to the Bald Eagle live feed was a rooster crowing - bit of cognitive dissonance going on there...

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Rashkavar » Sun Apr 10, 2016 5:44 am UTC

Heh, that eagle comparison does an even better job of poking fun at Bald Eagles than my story does.

Apparently there's something about the talons of a Bald Eagle (not sure if it's all Eagles or even Raptors in general) that locks them into position when they close around prey. This is generally beneficial as said prey is often still alive for at least a few moments after being grabbed, and its thrashing might allow it to escape if they were just clasped normally. But this also means that the eagle in question has to land before dropping its meal. (No idea how the mention of a dropped branch intended for nest material works - I'm guessing it has to do with how tightly it closes the talons.)

Anyway, this talon gimmick can be problematic - I know of at least one case in which an eagle caught a fish that was too heavy for it to fly with. And remember, it needs to find land so it can let the fish go...so the poor bird gets to swim back to shore. It was a rather sorry looking creature by the time my Dad saw it.

That said, don't take this as gospel. My father could easily be misinformed as to the reason this particular eagle had decided to go for a swim. I'm pretty sure this story predates the days of easy fact checking via wikipedia.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby teelo » Sun Apr 10, 2016 10:03 am UTC

Hah. When I saw "peregrine falcon" in the article, I wondered if he'd mention Animorphs.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

The implication is obviously to deliver a pizza to a plane, but the actual question never states that explicitly.

Image
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Mikeski » Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:00 pm UTC

Rashkavar wrote:Apparently there's something about the talons of a Bald Eagle (not sure if it's all Eagles or even Raptors in general) that locks them into position when they close around prey. This is generally beneficial as said prey is often still alive for at least a few moments after being grabbed, and its thrashing might allow it to escape if they were just clasped normally.

The tendon that connects to the talons, and a sheath the tendon runs through, have interlocking surfaces. This lets the bird maintain a strong grip without having to hold its muscles taut. It can release its grip by loosening the sheath, which is "locked" when the controlling muscles are relaxed.

It's not just raptors, though. All the perching birds have the same structure. They grab a tree branch, and can then relax their muscles while the locking tendon keeps a strong grip. This is how they can sleep while perched, and is also why you'll occasionally see a dead bird hanging upside-down from a branch or a power line; if they die without actively letting go, they'll hang there until the tendon and sheath decompose enough to fall apart.

But this also means that the eagle in question has to land before dropping its meal. (No idea how the mention of a dropped branch intended for nest material works - I'm guessing it has to do with how tightly it closes the talons.)

This is untrue; there is nothing in the tendon-locking mechanism that requires them to be on the ground to disengage it. Raptors can drop prey mid-flight, sometimes with interesting results. One raptor will often harass another in mid-air to get it to drop its prey, so the harasser can pick it up instead. And some will drop prey intentionally to kill it, or to get it out of its shell (turtles, etc).

Anyway, this talon gimmick can be problematic - I know of at least one case in which an eagle caught a fish that was too heavy for it to fly with. And remember, it needs to find land so it can let the fish go...so the poor bird gets to swim back to shore. It was a rather sorry looking creature by the time my Dad saw it.

This is true for the wrong reason: eagles can swim, in case they try to take a fish too large to fly with, or one strong enough to swim down while the eagle is holding it. But it has nothing to do with when they can unlock their talons.

That said, don't take this as gospel. My father could easily be misinformed as to the reason this particular eagle had decided to go for a swim. I'm pretty sure this story predates the days of easy fact checking via wikipedia.

It was fairly close, even without wikipedia.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby bachaddict » Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:33 am UTC

Mikeski wrote:It's not just raptors, though. All the perching birds have the same structure. They grab a tree branch, and can then relax their muscles while the locking tendon keeps a strong grip. This is how they can sleep while perched, and is also why you'll occasionally see a dead bird hanging upside-down from a branch or a power line; if they die without actively letting go, they'll hang there until the tendon and sheath decompose enough to fall apart.


That's interesting. So far I had only learned that the bending of the leg as they settled down pulled the claws tight.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby duefiori » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:47 pm UTC

I can't believe nobody mentioned coconuts yet. Or swallows.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Apr 11, 2016 2:50 pm UTC

duefiori wrote:I can't believe nobody mentioned coconuts yet. Or swallows.


wolfticket wrote:...An African or European Swallow?

Pfhorrest wrote:This question failed to consider the matter of where he grips it. It's not like pizza boxes have a husk. Could it rig something up with a line of creeper?
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Febrion » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:59 pm UTC

I'm waiting for the corollary to account for the aquatic aspect - delivery to submarines by sponge.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Ehsanit » Mon Apr 11, 2016 4:11 pm UTC

In the first note we find the most reassuring thing ever written:
I usually steer clear of experimental science in these articles.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:56 pm UTC

The Wing Type illustration goes askew with the last item.

Not that way. Grammatically.

"Fast" - Adjectival
"Big and swoopy" - Adjectival
"Good" - Adjectival
"Flappy" - Ajectival
"Triangle" - Noun.

Should have been "Triangular".

(Also geometrically more accurate. It isn't a triangle depicted, it's a complex (and part-concave) shape. Triangular would cover "of, or pertaining to, triangles", multiple (3+, perhaps - but not so many more 'plus', perhaps just two more)triangles entirely forming the shape indicated by the rough free-hand drawing, in a far simpler way than the "well, everything is made of triangles, if you put enough effort into it" counterargument.)

Other than that, I didn't spot any problems with the article. :|

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Echo244 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:32 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:"Fast" - Adjectival
"Big and swoopy" - Adjectival
"Good" - Adjectival
"Flappy" - Ajectival
"Triangle" - Noun.


Should have added "Buffalo" for the laughs, and fewer people would have noticed...
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:18 pm UTC

Ehsanit wrote:In the first note we find the most reassuring thing ever written:
I usually steer clear of experimental science in these articles.


Please, I found that deeply disappointing.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:55 pm UTC

I kinda like him not blowing up the planet.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:37 am UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:I kinda like him not blowing up the planet.

Don't tempt fate(/Randall). All we know is that he isn't blowing it up quickly. And/or at least not yet...

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Mikeski » Tue Apr 12, 2016 1:04 pm UTC

Randall knows how the scientific method works. Thus, he'll be sure any experiment he conducts is reproducible. Thus, all the Earths he has blown up have been alternate ones created for the experiment.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby sturmovik » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:20 pm UTC

Was Randall making an oblique reference to the AIM-26 Nuclear Falcon in the second image's mouseover text?

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 12, 2016 2:46 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:The Wing Type illustration goes askew with the last item.

Not that way. Grammatically.

"Fast" - Adjectival
"Big and swoopy" - Adjectival
"Good" - Adjectival
"Flappy" - Ajectival
"Triangle" - Noun.

Should have been "Triangular".

(Also geometrically more accurate. It isn't a triangle depicted, it's a complex (and part-concave) shape. Triangular would cover "of, or pertaining to, triangles", multiple (3+, perhaps - but not so many more 'plus', perhaps just two more)triangles entirely forming the shape indicated by the rough free-hand drawing, in a far simpler way than the "well, everything is made of triangles, if you put enough effort into it" counterargument.)

Other than that, I didn't spot any problems with the article. :|
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Apr 12, 2016 4:09 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:The last image was the punchline. It's supposed to be sillier than the rest.

Soupspoon wrote:The Wing Type illustration goes askew with the last item.

Not that way. Grammatically.


It's silly, but the silliness is brung low by the doubtless unintended mental shift. Obscure that column of text (keep the adjacent illustrations), and it reads as funny. "Big and swoopy" and "Flappy" also particularly add to the funny. Ending on "Triangle" instead of "Triangular" then just slightly dented the funny, though. (IMO, YMMV, HTH, HAND, IGMC, TTFN.)

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:09 pm UTC

Sudden unexpected grammatical shifts can contribute to the humor, though.

So joke. Much funny.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Lothario O'Leary » Tue Apr 12, 2016 5:44 pm UTC

So, apparently, as long as you use something sturdier than a swallow, it is a question of airspeed velocity.

*waits for the punsaw*

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:22 pm UTC

I was going to ask
When did he start switching to using only metric in these?

because having to do calculations in my head so often hurts my dumb American brain. But I guess, always? Looking back at old What-Ifs, it looks like... always. I just thought I remembered people from other places complaining about the lack of metric in the past, but I couldn't quickly find any evidence to support my memories so I gave up. (Again, American brain.)

ETA: OK, so there are non-metric units in this article, like mph and (thank heavens) degrees (of arc). And G as a unit of force. So now it bothers me that he's not consistent I suppose?
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby SDK » Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:53 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:OK, so there are non-metric units in this article, like mph and (thank heavens) degrees (of arc). And G as a unit of force.

Only one of those three examples is non-metric.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:29 pm UTC

MPH I presume you mean? But degrees are what I think in, instead of metric radians. It's Babylonian base-60, not metric base-10. And G is its own artificial unit, like astronomical units. (You can say what 1 G is in Newtons, or in feet per second per second)
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby DanD » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:33 pm UTC

SDK wrote:
mathmannix wrote:OK, so there are non-metric units in this article, like mph and (thank heavens) degrees (of arc). And G as a unit of force.

Only one of those three examples is non-metric.


Degrees are "non-metric but accepted for use with metric units". g (note the lower case) is not a metric unit either. G is not mentioned in this article (and is not a unit of measure).

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:34 pm UTC

DanD wrote:
SDK wrote:
mathmannix wrote:OK, so there are non-metric units in this article, like mph and (thank heavens) degrees (of arc). And G as a unit of force.

Only one of those three examples is non-metric.


Degrees are "non-metric but accepted for use with metric units". g (note the lower case) is not a metric unit either. G is not mentioned in this article (and is not a unit of measure).



Randall in this article wrote:a maximum sideways acceleration of about 1g
(not grams)

https://sizes.com/units/G.htm wrote:g
A unit of acceleration approximately equal to the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface, internationally standardized at 9.80665 meters per second per second (about 32.1740 feet per second per second). Its symbol is a lowercase g.

G
A unit of force, sometimes called the G-force. The symbol is often, erroneously, g. One G is the amount of force needed to produce an acceleration of 1 g
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby DanD » Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:19 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
https://sizes.com/units/G.htm wrote:g
A unit of acceleration approximately equal to the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface, internationally standardized at 9.80665 meters per second per second (about 32.1740 feet per second per second). Its symbol is a lowercase g.

G
A unit of force, sometimes called the G-force. The symbol is often, erroneously, g. One G is the amount of force needed to produce an acceleration of 1 g


I didn't say it was grams, because if I had, I wouldn't have stated that it wasn't a metric unit.

The unit used in the article is clearly acceleration, g. G for force is not a standard usage, and even if it was, it is not found in the article. Since gravitation is a field effect, and thus applies to the entirety of the mass in question, there generally isn't a need to separate the force from the acceleration.

On the other hand G is, very specifically, the gravitational constant.

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:13 am UTC

Should grams actually be millikilograms if SI were to be fully consistent?

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Apr 13, 2016 1:57 am UTC

DanD wrote:
mathmannix wrote:
https://sizes.com/units/G.htm wrote:g
A unit of acceleration approximately equal to the acceleration due to gravity at the Earth's surface, internationally standardized at 9.80665 meters per second per second (about 32.1740 feet per second per second). Its symbol is a lowercase g.

G
A unit of force, sometimes called the G-force. The symbol is often, erroneously, g. One G is the amount of force needed to produce an acceleration of 1 g


I didn't say it was grams, because if I had, I wouldn't have stated that it wasn't a metric unit.

The unit used in the article is clearly acceleration, g. G for force is not a standard usage, and even if it was, it is not found in the article. Since gravitation is a field effect, and thus applies to the entirety of the mass in question, there generally isn't a need to separate the force from the acceleration.

On the other hand G is, very specifically, the gravitational constant.

From the quote, looks like an engineers' site. They spell 'i' as 'j' (because they tend to use capital-I instead of A, which is already confusing!), so I don't think you can trust them with 'g' vs 'G'... ;)

And force-due-to-acceleration and force-due-to-gravity are essentially the same thing, anyway, says Albert. And, as a force, is in Newtons (kg.m.s-2), unless you're one half of a Mars probe team... ;)

(And, as alluded to, just above, the SI unit for mass is the kilogram(me). Originally it was the 'grave' (use a French pronunciation!), when it was the quite similar weight of a cubic decimetre of ice at 0°C, the gramme(/gram) was thus the weight of a cubic centimetre. To be prefix-free, given we already had the 'handy' metre, we'd have been talking of a tonne (metric ton, 10^3 kilos) block of ice as the initial basic unit, by whatever name it might have been called then, and now. Imagine a platinum/iridium block of that sitting in a Paris cellar..!)

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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby Sableagle » Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:44 pm UTC

This response serves to illustrate yet another way in which multi-turbofan airliners just aren't as cool as zeppelins. Of course, if you've got the lift that goes to whatever location you write on the labels, you can get your pizza to the zeppelin that way without the air-cooling effect associated with getting a bird to lift it up there.
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Re: What-If 0149: "Pizza Bird"

Postby SDK » Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:26 pm UTC

DanD wrote:
SDK wrote:
mathmannix wrote:OK, so there are non-metric units in this article, like mph and (thank heavens) degrees (of arc). And G as a unit of force.

Only one of those three examples is non-metric.


Degrees are "non-metric but accepted for use with metric units". g (note the lower case) is not a metric unit either. G is not mentioned in this article (and is not a unit of measure).

I took non-metric to mean "incompatible with metric".
The biggest number (63 quintillion googols in debt)


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