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How dragons can fly: a mad science explanation

Created Thu 28 Apr 05 - 1:45 by Mithandir in category Chasing the Sunset

A recurring problem for fantasy/scifi writers is people pointing out what they consider to be factual errors. Now, with the help of illness-induced halucinations, our mad scientist will provide you with a scientific explanation of one of these:

How dragons can fly

Problem: Dragons are way too big to fly.
Solution: Blame pixies.

Like most appearant problems in a fantasy universe, this one too can be blamed on pixies. In this case, the mere existance of pixies in the universe makes it scientifically possible for a dragon to fly.

To explain this, one must only look at statistics. In statistics, an occurance is considered truely random if the population of possibilities is uniform. This means that if there are ten possible values, each of them has an equal chance of occuring (being 1 in 10).
Now, statistically speaking, if you take several such random values and add them together, the resulting value is not truely random anymore. Instead the population of posibilities forms a bell curve.
It is these statistics with which nearly all experimental data is analysed.

In a fantasy universe however, the existance of pixies excludes the existance of statistics. This is not merely because statistics are dull and boring, but has a more mathematical reason. After all, a pixie can generally be considered to be an aproximation of true randomness. However, if you add several pixies together, what you'll have is a sum that is MORE random, not less, thus invalidating all of statistics.

Since aerodynamics is at best a guessing game based on statistics anyway, it's clear that the laws of flight do not apply to a fantasy universe any more than the laws of gravity apply to a cartoon universe.

In the end, the science has to be redone to come to a set of aerodynamic laws that fit the universe. For this to be valid, the observation that dragons can fly would have to be an inherent part of the calculations. Therefore, it can be said that dragons can fly, because dragons can fly. This may seem silly, but when you dig deep enough you'll find that nearly all science in any universe boils down to similar statements.

To satisfy the cravings of those unable to wrap their minds around that, here's an alternate explanation.

The original statement was: Dragons are too big to fly using muscle power.
This statement would not even be correct in our (real) universe. After all, it presumes that volume = mass, which is not the case. Dragons are, after all, hot. They are fire based creatures. They breathe fire. They're hot.
Therefore dragon flight can be explained by looking at a dragon as a big hot air balloon with wings. Like a fish has an airsack to adjust its depth in the water, so do dragons have huge hot air sacks to provide extra lift.

Even so, it's not recommended to tell a dragon he's full of hot air.


Kalowen MajereI just found this site in Muse magizine. Hey! Congrats on winning the contest.

Anyway I am a dragon Fenatic. No wonder when I took your test to find out what fantisy animal I am I got Dragon.

I like how you "Blamed the Pixies" for the problem of Dragons being to heavy to fly.

See Ya!
LaraAcualy it was I who found your website not my cousin Kalowen. Apperently she hasn't learned to spell yet either.



PS: Do You know what the are speed and velosity of an unladen swallow is?
Kalowen MajereWhat do You mean. European or African?
Bobmore importantly the speed and velocity of a dragon
Shadow PhoenixHey! Two other dragon-Muse-CtS-Monty Python fans! I thought I was the only one!
bookbookOh great Monty Python...


For all your horses made of coconuts, let us say:

Black ManthaI once read a book about how dragons could have existed. It stated that dragons fly using hydrogen, created by dissolving rocks in adapted stomache acid. It explained the firebreathing, caves as lair, why there are no fossiles, and several more legends.
Flaming MonoWow... More people who like Monty Python, Muse, and CTS. I feel as if I love you people...

Bobwhat about LOTR and Star Wars?
Blue RiverBlack Mantha, I read that book too!!
Dark DragonAre you suggesting coconuts are migratory?

What about Dragons?

hkmalyI believe the reason beyond "two pixies are more random that one" doesn't invalidate statistics: if you consider 1 of 10 values and add two of them, you got curve, but that is not true if you consider 1 of infinity values - which is the pixie case. Of course, uniform distribution with infinity values isn't the simplest part of statistics ...
robyou guys r fags get a girlfriend/boyfriend already no masterdation yall'
once again robsorry for the crude remark my lil' sister is a dinglesmordhin
whosoeverI get muse magazine to. what issue was it in?
whosoeverthis website, I mean.
JessicadagI love it! That is way cool man! The steps weren’t that complicated too, which is great.
Funnythx thx thx for this
Kalowen MajereWow, I just decided to do a Google search on myself and this came up. I totally forgot about it, this must have been 5 years ago. My how time flys....much like a dragon I'd imagine.
VersedOla, what's up amigos? :)
I will be happy to receive some help at the start.
Thanks in advance and good luck! :)
Lady DarkrinaHehehe yes that might be true Martha.
DropwingBlack Mantha, you must tell me the name of that darned book! I have to have it!! If I don't, well, lets just say that I might grow an air sack, and "provided with the extra lift", float away! Oh, yeah, I also want to know about how there isn't any dragon fossils. Scaly creatures with wings, air sacks, barbed tails, and sharp horns are awesome! Plz add comment, and fast!
UltrainventorYou know, I thought it was more for the same reason aircraft... woah! I just saved us all by preventing myself from going into a boring scientific rant!

If you want to hear it, just ask me... though you would have to be insane or insanely curious to listen to my ranting...
the monty python refrences in previous comments has made me relize that we call junk mail cand ham
hailstormthat last comment was me
guesttry watching " flight of dragons"
AnonAltho you CAN say that dragons fly bechause they can fly, bechause a fantasy universe can have other laws of physics, those laws has to be SOMETHING! Thereby, "a dragon can fly bechause it can" isn't sufficiant - you can start by saying that and work your laws of physics out of that - but the interesting part here is when you go in the depths... D&D had one solution to this, arcane energy mixed with skeletal structure, anatomy and alot of other factors.

The hot air balloon theory is NOT valid at all of the following reasons:
1: Not all dragons are firebased! There's ice, acid, poison and lightningbased breaths from different kind of dragons, and they can fly just as well! therefore, hot air can't be the solution
2: even if point 1 was wrong: Mass/volume in air is too small (compared to in water, with the air balloon fish) for this to be a resonable solution
3: When air gets hotter, it expands (and drifts upwards) but not much at all. This effect is too small, for 1 m^3 of air to lift 1 kg mass it must have an enormous temperature (compared to the surroundings) and this would imply that dragons have the mass density of 0,001 times the one of water. Undoable!

So NO, dragon flight can't be explained without magic, arcane energy or other unnatural reasons :)

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