Science: Slots for Drag

The earliest airplane designers knew that air turbulence was their enemy, tried to build wings that would slip through the air as smoothly as fish drift through water. They always failed. As the air flowed over the wing, it broke into curling eddies that dragged at the plane and drank up the engine's power. In theory, the scientists knew that this "burble" effect could be prevented by sucking into the wing a thin layer of air, and with it the incipient eddies. The remaining air would glide past the whole wing in smooth "laminar...

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