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The Science of Peregrines' Fast Flight


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Transcript-The Science of Peregrines' Fast Flight
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How do peregrine falcons dive so fast? That’s what listener Henry wants to know. Peregrines hit speeds of over 200 mph, making them the fastest animal on the planet. Even faster than cheetahs! Mathematical biologist Graham Taylor studies the science of animal flight, and peregrines are his most impressive subjects. Find out how peregrines win the ultimate animal race, and how scientists are revealing the hidden physics and math behind fast flight.

 Peregrine in the distance, in the air.


In the episode, we talk about the awesome videos that Graham uses in order to find the equations behind the peregrine's dive trajectories.

Screenshot of a falcon's perspective. It's head is shown above the ground in a POV shot.

Click here to watch an example of the videos in Graham's research.

Here's a great video from the journal Science, summarizing Graham's research on why peregrines dive so fast.


Mathematical biology is the study of biology using mathematical models, to make predictions about animal behavior.

Kit Yates is another mathematical biologist. In this audio interview, he explains what the discipline is, and how it is useful. His book, The Maths of Life and Death, shows how math is at the heart of modern life.

Kit Yates also has this talk on what mathematical biology is.


Graham's lab, the Oxford Animal Flight Lab, also studies insect flight. Here's a video they made to explain mosquito flight.

A former member of the lab has her own, very fun science YouTube channel! Check out her video on what if reindeer could fly.

Want to hear more from our interview with Graham Taylor? We have a special bonus episode with more on fast flight and mathematical biology. Just pledge $1/month on to get this and other great interviews of science discovery!

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