Flapping Flags

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Sometimes structural forces and aerodynamic forces combine to produce instabilities. One of the most common and familiar examples of this, a flag flapping in the breeze, remains extremely complex to analyze and describe. The flexibility of the flag, and its small but finite resistance to bending, combine with the variability of air flow around the flag to create a fascinating dance of effects. This same aeroelastic flutter can create disastrous results for structures and aircraft. For more on the flapping flag, see Argentina and Mahadevan (2004). (Video credit: S. Morris)

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