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### MATHEMATICS
DEPARTMENT, FERRIS STATE UNIVERSITY

### MATH COLLOQUIUM ,
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 11:00am, STARR 138

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**SPEAKER:** **Robert N. McCullough, Associate Professor, Mathematics**

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**TITLE: ***The Wright
Stuff – The Mathematics of the Wright Brothers*

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**ABSTRACT:**

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*On December 17, 1903, two
brothers from Dayton, Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright, accomplished one of the
greatest achievements of the human spirit – flight. After their unsuccessful gliding flights in 1900 and 1901, the
Wrights became convinced that a thorough
understanding of the mathematics of flight was necessary to overcome the
errors that others had made in their attempts to fly. In particular, the Smeaton coefficient of air pressure, a
standard number that had been accepted and used for nearly 150 years without
question by such people as Lilienthal and Chanute, was found to be seriously in
error. Similarly, the coefficients of
lift and drag needed to be calculated for each shape of airfoil tested to
determine the optimal shape. *

*This paper will examine the
mathematics that the Wright brothers used and the experiments they devised to
determine and test these results. Using
only high school mathematics, Wilbur and Orville Wright changed the world
forever.*

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**REFRESHMENTS: 11:00am, STARR 138**

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**Please visit Math Colloquium
website at**

**http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/colleges/artsands/Math/MATH_COLLOQUIUM/ColloquiumWeb/index.html**