2023–24 Project IV

Paper aeroplane

Falling… with style!


  • What makes paper aeroplanes fly? Why do they not simply flutter down? Which design travels furthest when we throw them off the third floor balcony in the maths department?
  • How do you bend it like Beckham? What’s the best tactic for a free kick?
  • Are rotor ships the future of energy-efficient ocean travel?
  • What shapes do flexible objects make as they fall through water? How stable are they?

All these phenomena rely on modelling the flow of fluid around objects, and considering how that plays with the objects’ centres of mass and stability.

This project will take ideas from Fluid Mechanics III and apply them to interesting shapes and objects, with the target ultimately directed by your interests.

This project is jointed supervised by Peter Wyper.

How we might structure the the project

At the start, you could have something like:

  • Fluid flow around rigid objects: basic theory for air or for water
  • Picking an object + a fluid and seeing what research has already been done
  • A spherical object spinning through the air or sedimenting through water


You need to have taken Fluid Mechanics III to do this project.

This is an applied maths project and there is likely to be some computational work as well as some analytical work. You should be competent with Python, but you do not have to be a numerical analysis expert.