Rock You Like a Hurricane: The Ultimate Wind Tunnel Quiz

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Without wind tunnels, the course of human history might've been very different. How much do you know about these cool, breezy machines?

Wind tunnels are designed to study what sort of forces?

It's all about getting air, or aerodynamics. Wind tunnels help engineers study the effects of airflow.

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Leonardo da Vinci drew up plans for an early plane. What was it called?

His design closely mimicked a bird, thus it was called an ornithopter.

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In terms of aerodynamics, what is drag?

Resist the wrong answer! Drag is the same thing as air resistance, which slows down objects in the wind.

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What is turbulence?

Ladies and gentlemen, please return to your seats and buckle your seatbelts. Air turbulence can be mild or violent, but it's always a factor in the skies.

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Which contraption was an early forerunner to wind tunnels?

You are getting very, very dizzy. Whirling arms were used to spin objects in hopes of gaining insights into aerodynamics.

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Who invented the first whirling arm?

He really liked quadruple lattes, too. Benjamin Robins was a well-known mathematician with an insatiable curiosity.

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What was one major problem with the design of whirling arms?

A whirling leg wouldn't have been an improvement. Turbulence in general was a major problem for the whirling arm.

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What shape was most often tested on whirling arms?

Foiled again! Airfoils, the precursors to full-blown glider and plane wings, revealed some intial clues about the potential for manned flight.

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What was one of the most important forces that whirling arms helped early engineers investigate?

If you got it right, it will do the same thing to your score. Lift is a critical force for getting objects off of the ground and into the air.

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When was the first wind tunnel constructed?

And the winds of change really did blow afterwards. It was 1871.

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How long, in feet, was the first wind tunnel?

At 12 feet long (and 18 inches square), it was actually much bigger than a lot of subsequent tunnels.

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What is the most important section of a wind tunnel?

Without it, the point of the whole contraption is moot. The test section is the area where scientists mount test models.

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Who researched the results of whirling arms and English wind tunnels and decided to make their own?

They were true aerodynamics geeks. With their meticulous research, the Wright brothers eventually built a wind tunnel they hoped was superior to earlier versions.

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The Wright brothers placed a fan upstream of the test section in their wind tunnel. Why was this a mistake?

Pull, don't push, is the rule when using fans in a tunnel, as the air will be much smoother.

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How big was the test section the Wright brothers' wind tunnel?

Big enough to change history. It was only 16 inches, but the resulting enlightenment lasted forever.

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About how many different shapes of airfoils did the Wright brothers test in their wind tunnel?

They were nothing if not thorough. Orville and Wilbur tried out around 200 shapes before they settled on a few promising designs.

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Which section of the wind tunnel calms the air as it begins its movement downstream?

It is the calm before the windstorm. The settling chamber brings order to chaotic airflow and prepares it for the next part of the wind tunnel.

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Which section is specifically constructed to reduce turbulence from pushing back into the test section?

Without it, many test results would be invalidated. The diffuser widens and lets the air flow steadily and slowly so as not to affect the test section.

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What is the name of the metal pole that secures models in the test section?

It's not like a bee's, hopefully. The stinger keeps the model stationary during wind tests.

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What is an oval, or racetrack-shaped, wind tunnel called?

That brings this quiz to a close. Closed-circuit wind tunnels are like race tracks for breezes.

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