Cells on the Plane

Cidu Bill on Oct 29th 2012


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, comic strips, comics, humor | 19 responses so far

19 Responses to “Cells on the Plane”

  1. Kilby Oct 29th 2012 at 12:17 am 1

    I think it has to be sarcastic reverse psychology, because it certainly doesn’t have any justification in physics or electronics.

  2. Jeff S. Oct 29th 2012 at 01:10 am 2

    I would keep it on and keep talking just to spite her… but then again, I never would have had it on in the first place.

  3. Jeff Oct 29th 2012 at 01:32 am 3

    You see, there was this scene in a Simpsons episode where a stewardess asks Bart to turn off his Gameboy (because it is an electronic device that will interfere with the operation of the plane). When Bart turns off the Gameboy, the plane starts to nosedive and the stewardess shouts, “Turn it back on! Turn it back on!” When Bart turns his Gameboy back on, the plane resumes its normal operation.

    Whoever created this comic tried to do that same joke in a single panel (updating the Gameboy to a cell phone) and failed miserably.

  4. Olpera Oct 29th 2012 at 05:55 am 4

    Too many people watch Simpsons and I’m afraid that not very especially to few - superstitiously - take too much of certain stuff for being real. Ie, the stewardess may very well be in good faith. (I’ve experienced worse examples in real life.)

    (Btw, be careful out there on the east coast!)

  5. pepperjackcandy Oct 29th 2012 at 07:25 am 5

    I LOLed.

    Maybe this situation might make a basis for a science fiction movie based on Arthur C. Clarke’s axiom, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Or, in this case, superstition.

  6. mitch4 Oct 29th 2012 at 08:33 am 6

    i liked it. I didn’t read it as sarcasm, just a world with alternative physics. Resulting in an entirely routine announcement, which happens to reverse what that announcement would be in our world.

  7. Elyrest Oct 29th 2012 at 11:58 am 7

    I’m with mitch4 on his theory. The flight attendant really means it when she says don’t turn off the phone.

  8. J-L Oct 29th 2012 at 12:13 pm 8

    Saying that cell phones power planes is no stranger than saying that those little wings keep the plane and its passengers up in the air.

    Oh sure, physics teachers can tell you all about airfoils, air pressure, and Bernoulli’s principle, but deep inside we all know the real reason why planes can fly: magic.

  9. Elyrest Oct 29th 2012 at 12:35 pm 9

    I’m afraid that I’m going to have to agree with J-L on the magic thing too.

  10. Bill Oct 29th 2012 at 02:09 pm 10

    I’m an engineer who designs planes and I agree that it’s only magic that keeps them in the air.

  11. Detcord Oct 29th 2012 at 02:11 pm 11

    Actually, nowadays airfoils, air pressure, and Bernoulli’s principle (which uses the shape of the wing to generate lift) have a lot less to do with keeping a modern aircraft in the air than people might think. The real magic is in the engines and their HUGE power to weight ratios.

    Even light aircraft rely very little on the old a-a-b’s. Don’t believe me? Have you ever seen a stunt plane turn on its back and continue to fly straight and level? I have, many times. And fighter jets have incredibly thin wings and no trouble flying at all - even at incredible altitudes where the air is very thin.

    Now, being a Mechanical Engineeer - like J-L ans Elyrest - I happen to think jet engines are pretty magical too.

  12. Mary in Ohio Oct 29th 2012 at 05:38 pm 12

    Not to mention bumblebees.

  13. Lost in A**2 Oct 29th 2012 at 06:04 pm 13

    Wasn’t the F-15 the first plane to be able to accelerate straight up? Not that the Harrier was a slouch, though.

  14. James Pollock Oct 29th 2012 at 06:54 pm 14

    I’m pretty sure the Bell X-1 could accelerate straight up.
    Conversely, I’ve been told by many pilots that the F-4 without engines has all of the aerodynamic responsiveness of a brick. An A-10 can fly with a significant portion of its wing surface blown off (also with only one engine.)

  15. Carl Oct 29th 2012 at 11:45 pm 15

    @Detcord, that’s angle of attack. Wings never did really use Bernoulli’s Principle.

  16. Detcord Oct 30th 2012 at 02:14 pm 16

    “Wings never did really use Bernoulli’s Principle.”

    Not true Carl. “Bernoulli’s principle can be used to calculate the lift force on an airfoil if the behaviour of the fluid flow in the vicinity of the foil is known.”

    That’s how the Wright Brothers got their flimsy aircraft to fly. And they “warped” the wing (as opposed to Curtiss’s flaps) to bank the aircraft. Warping changed the pressure differential and caused a wing to rise or fall according to Bernoulli’s Principle. Granted, it wasn’t much, but it was enough to make it fly and turn.

    Flaps were much better, but Curtiss still lost to the Wright Brother’s patent infringement suit. The law determined that flaps were essentially the same idea - and gave damages to the Brothers.

    My quibble with you is in your use of the word, “never”, as that simply isn’t true. It is true that Bernoulli’s principle is virtually insignificant to modern flight.

  17. fj Oct 30th 2012 at 05:06 pm 17

    re: “It is true that Bernoulli’s principle is virtually insignificant to modern flight.”


    I would agree that Bernoulli’s principle plays a relatively small role in how most modern aircraft get off the ground (power and angle of attack provide most of the lift), but I think the lift generated by the airfoil still plays a significant role in efficiently keeping the aircraft in the air at level flight at cruising speeds. After all, most airplanes still have cambered airfoil wings (even if the camber is relatively small and the wings are relatively thin). These wings generate lift at a zero-degree angle of attack, and as you said, “Bernoulli’s principle can be used to calculate the lift force on an airfoil if the behaviour of the fluid flow in the vicinity of the foil is known.” Now, there may be better ways to both explain and calculate this lift (e.g., Navier–Stokes and Euler equations), but Bernoulli’s principle can still be applied (even if what most of us were taught about in high school about “equal transit times” is total bunk), and that the intrinsic lift of an airfoil is still relatively important in the design of most planes. It allows the aircraft to maintain altitude with less drag that what would be required if the wing had no intrinsic lift. Do you disagree, or am I misinterpreting what you are saying?

    And those jet fighters with thin wings flying in thin air? Lift is directly proportional to air density, but it is also proportional to velocity squared. They fly fast…

    As far as the upside-down plane is concerned, sure, an airplane with sufficient power can maintain level flight upside down: it just needs enough of an angle of attack to compensate for both gravity and the negative lift created by the upside-down airfoil. Most planes would use a significantly more fuel to fly upside down than they would conventional level flight at the same speed.

    @James Pollock and others re: Vertical flight…
    As far as vertical flight is concerned, the Bell X-1 had a thrust/weight ratio of about 0.50, so it would not have been capable of vertical acceleration. The earliest plane I can think of that was capable of vertical acceleration was the Ryan X-13 Vertijet, an experimental vertical take-off jet developed in the mid-50’s and tested in 1957.

    The X-15 had a thrust/weight ratio of about 2.0, so it could accelerate vertically.

  18. Detcord Oct 31st 2012 at 04:00 pm 18


    Take your modern passenger jet aircraft and kill it’s engines. What do you think will happen next?…
    [besides panic]

    My point to Carl was that Bernoulli’s principle still played a role. My point to you is that modern engines play a much bigger role. I may have over-egged the insignificant part, but then - for high performance aircraft (such as fighters where manouver is vastly more important than fuel efficiency) - loss of engine power pretty much turns the craft into a stone. Good pilots can, to a degree, compensate for a little while, but I don’t think “gliding her in” is a realistic option for them nowadays. Hence the ejector seat. (well, one reason anyway) :P

  19. fj Oct 31st 2012 at 09:54 pm 19

    @Detcord (18)
    I have acknowledged all along the importance of power getting modern aircraft into the air. If you had limited the claim about Bernoulli being insignificant to just fighter aircraft, I’d have no objection: they have a different set of tradeoffs (as do purpose-built stunt planes). For most other aircraft, fuel efficiency *IS* important, and designing the wings for efficient lift at cruising speeds is still important.

    You will probably be suprised to learn that a Boeing 747 has a better glide ratio than a Cessna 172 Skyhawk (your typical 4-passenger single engine prop plane). If you lose your engines on a modern airliner at cruising altitude , you need to find a really long runway (because you’ll have no reverse thrust), and it better be within 100 miles or so, but a “dead stick” (i.e., no engine power) landing is doable, and, in fact, has been done a few times. For example, in 2001, an Airbus 330 had a fuel leak on a transatlantic flight, and the crew glided the plane over 100 miles for an emergency dead stick landing in the Azores (Air Transat Flight 236).

    I have heard it said that an F-15 without power has the glide ratio of a rock, but there has been at least one case of a successful dead stick landing in a F-16.

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