National Museums Scotland and Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, the University of Edinburgh

UNDERSTANDING TECHNOLOGY Public lecture Thursday 18 September 2008, 3:00 pm Professor David Bloor (Edinburgh University): “How Does an Aircraft Wing Work? British Physicists versus German Engineers: 1909-1926”

Sustained and controlled powered flight was well established by about 1910, but the practical mastery of flight was not accompanied by a clear, theoretical understanding of how aeroplanes worked. For example, it was not clear how a wing produced lift. In the early years of aviation there were two very different theories under discussion. One was called theory of discontinuous flow, the other was called the theory of circulatory flow. The discontinuity theory was supported by British physicists; the circulatory theory was supported by German engineers. It turned out that the Germans were right and the British were wrong. The British fought a rearguard action argument against the correct explanation which lasted till the 1920s. Professor Bloor’s aim in the lecture is to describe the two theories, identify the people involved and explain the source of the British resistance. Dunfermline Room, National Museums Scotland Admission free

Please register with Maureen Kerr on 0131 247 4274 or [email protected]