back to article Angels can't fly: Official

A UK academic has some very bad news for those who believe they'll one day be fluttering through the pearly gates, because unless they're carrying some form of heavenly jet pack, their appointment with Saint Peter is definitely cancelled. The reason? Angels can't actually fly, according to University College London's Roger …

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  1. Peter 46
    Thumb Down

    Muppets can't flt either

    I do hope this idiot is not publicly funded....

  2. Nimrod
    FAIL

    Yeah and

    A) these are mythical beings &

    B) wasn't it scientists that told us Bumble Bees shouldn't be able to fly, despite the empirical evidence to the contrary

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    That's a pity

    Has anyone told them yet?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes that is assuming

    that angels are made of meat. And, as we all know: Meat flys like a banana.

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Joke

      D'oh!

      Meat flys like a banana.

      Grief, get a job/girlfriend/ID card or something ;-)

      "Time flies like an arrow, FRUIT FLIES like a banana."

      You should get out more. 'Meat fly' is what your possible future girlfriend will be trying to unzip on a Friday night, if you're lucky.

      1. phoenix
        Pint

        very funny

        best laugh I have had in a while.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Wings != flight

    Who ever said that they fly by flapping (or otherwise using) their wings?... I always thought that the wings were meant to be symbolic and that they actually flew by levitation.

    Not that I believe in them at all anyway, I just like to discredit published 'research'.

    1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

      symbolic wings

      Probably not the place for theology, but the Seraph in Isaiah 6 has six wings, and only uses two of 'em for flight.

      The Cherubim in Genesis sport flaming swords.

      And, seeing as it's Christmas, we should remember that the first thing an angel ever says is "do not be afraid".

      I'm not sure the "fat babies" image holds much water..

  6. Rafe
    WTF?

    Someone help him

    This guy needs a girlfriend/hobby/pet......something....anything to keep him occupied..............either that or he needs sectioning for thinking that this is a useful piece of research.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    idiot scientist

    He has missed the first rule of science and made a silly assumption to base all his work on.

    He has failed to define an "Angel", failed to address the fact that like the god they are associated with it could be said they are non-existent, non-human, non-terrestrial and certainly not subject to the laws of physics.

    This guy just wanted to score some idiot points for claiming something silly at Christmas.

  8. Andrew James
    FAIL

    They'll be telling me next that ...

    ... there isn't a tooth fairy or santa

  9. Keith McWhan 1
    WTF?

    My God!

    Professor Wotton's other current research includes "the transport and fate of faecal matter in streams and rivers", according to his UCL biog.

    He's taken poo sticks a bit too literally hasn't he?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Rubbish!

    This is rubbish. I don't believe in angels, and as a result, I know that imaginary beings can do what ever you want them to do. Why do scientists always assume that the physical world is the only world? As Mary Poppins once said, if you want something to happen, you just have to close your eyes and imagine it.

  11. Jason Togneri
    FAIL

    Erroneous assumptions

    You mistakenly assume that the agents of God are limited by physics. This clearly isn't the case, them being imbued with the omnipotent power of the Lord and all, and therefore they can fly if they feel like it - unlike the flawed, limited beings down here who aren't granted an exemption from such trifling matters. Did you really think that God was bound by mere physical laws, which He Himself created out of nothingness?

    Wasn't sure whether to go with "Joke Alert" or "Fail".

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    but for the true believers

    anything is possible, when it just exists in the flutterings of the neurons between their ears.

    They do love a bit of self delusion.

    as for me, I'll go with the Prof :)

  13. Number6

    Missing the Point

    Surely if you believe in angels of that sort then you'd know that they don't need to obey Earthly laws of physics.

    However, for those of us who categorise them with the fat bloke in the red suit, it comes as no surprise. After all, his reindeer don't even have wings. Marketing departments were obviously more creative and artistic back when angels were first envisaged.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      "However, for those of us who categorise them with the fat bloke in the red suit, it comes as no surprise."

      What? You don't belive in Mario?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad science

    Everyone knows that angels are made from a mixture of titanium and carbon fibre and that their wings are powered by internal fusion reactors.

  15. Cthonus
    FAIL

    Putti aren't cherubim

    Nice to see the Prof got it right in his title.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Article Link

    Here's a link to the article.... http://www.ucl.ac.uk/opticon1826/currentissue/Articles/Article_LS_Wotton_Angels.pdf

  17. Gulfie
    FAIL

    Uh?

    As somebody with no axe to grind (or cross to wave, as it were) there is an obvious flaw in the man's argument. He's approaching a scientific subject from a non-scientific direction. From a scientific point of view I'm sure there a re all sorts of reasons why angels - people with wings - can't fly. Muscles (lack of), weight, ability to not drink and fly...

    But God, if you take the position that He exists, simply imbues angels and cherubs with the ability to fly. Physics just wouldn't come into it. If God had to obey the laws of physics, please explain the parting of the Red Sea, Walking on Water, Water into wine...

    ROFLMAO!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    where did he find an angel to examine?

    artistes never saw them, they just made up the image and the church approved it. In fact, even the picture that they have for Jesus and Marry are both _made_ up by some artiest, then *approved* by the church to be used.

    religion depends on faith, yet for some reason, the church saw fit to *make up* some *idols*, so that the believers can relate to religion through them. If angels do exist (I'll leave it to the reader to decided if they do), then you can bet that it looks nothing like the images drawn by the artistes. After all, I don't remember anywhere, where it says that humans where created to look like angels (they existed first, right?).

    note, by idols, I am not referring to Jesus, Marry and the Angels, but the made up images. Trying to give a face to something that they never saw.

  19. M7S
    Coat

    High winds required? - no problem

    Where some of you will be sitting on those clouds, there should be plenty of that. Just mind the chill factor, or is that only for relative windspeed?

    And if you dont think you can sit on a cloud, there's always Laputa as a fallback.

    The one with Warren Worthington III in the label.

  20. Charles 9 Silver badge
    Joke

    But does Wotton take into account...

    ...that perhaps angels have less or no weight because they're no longer corporeal or because of divine intervention? Or that fairies have access to magic the negates their physical weight?

  21. NoOnions
    WTF?

    Bees

    They seem to manage alright...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    I assumed they flew by magical rather than aerodynamical principles.

    After all if they exist at all then there's a magic sky fairy who can make anything happen by wishing, so if he wishes for them to be able to fly then they can and that's an end of it.

    IOW, this is rather missing the point. The fact that they can't fly is really just one minor facet of the fact that they don't actually *exist*.

  23. Matthew Burling
    Thumb Down

    Time on his hands

    Looks like it's not just me who is looking for ways to fill their idle time at work in the run-up to Christmas.

  24. Chris Hunt

    That further research

    Are you sure it wasn't "the transport and fate of ursine faecal matter"?

  25. nichomach
    Grenade

    Neither, apparently...

    ...can bumble-bees. (Yes, I know, I know, and the pineapple's for the first smart-alec that mentions "dynamic stall").

  26. NogginTheNog
    WTF?

    Loony

    Does someone PAY this guy to waste his time (and their money?) on this 'research'?!!

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      WTF?

      Re: Did someone pay?

      Sadly, it may well have been taxpayers' money.

      ( Best comment on the thread, btw, imho )

  27. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    FFS!

    Yes, but wasn't it already proven donkey's ago that in order for a 6 foot man to fly with wings, he would need a chest cavity 3 times the current size of a human's. Bloody students wasting my time and most likely taxes on pointless research, telling us stuff we already know! Why don't you get a real job Mr Professor?!

    To quote the late, great George Carlin..."20% of people believe in angels in the US now. What are you f**king stupid or something? Freaking angels! What it is, is all the drugs from the last 25 years, still in the bloodstreams of all the US citizens, that'll get you some freaking angels my friend!"

  28. Steven Jones

    porcine aviation

    There's nothing like an academic trying to corner the corner for Christmas whimsy and get himself in the papers for his 15 minutes of glory. Next he'll be telling us Pegasus couldn't get airborne, Icarus would have crashed into the sea before ever nearing the Sun and Santa's reindeer don't generate enough lift, not to mention that damned snowman.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Shock news

    Professor investigating painting of an imaginary supernatural beings determines the person doing the painting didn't understand the laws of physics - alternatively the professor fails to understand the laws of physics don't apply to the imagination!

    PH - a being probably wouldn't live up to the imagination either ;-)

  30. Woodgar

    Wonder if Santa will bring me a title for Christmas?

    Now this is the type of research that makes Baby Jesus cry.

    1. Swarthy
      Joke

      a title for a reply

      It's easy to make Baby Jesus cry... This crap makes Baby Cthulhu cry.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "They take messages to heaven and therefore have to fly."

    Rather begs the question -

    Where to exactly - The edge of space?

    Beyond that the wings would have absolutely no effect. If they don't need them beyond that, then they wouldn't need them before.

    Sounds a bit made up to me.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Why all the effort?

      I just set fire to my letters to Santa, and let the smoke go up the chimney -

      # ren uncle=bob. (IT bit, natch..OK, DEC RT11, but I'm old.)

      Danger is, if the smoke's white, not black, the Catholics across the street will elect a new Pope.

  32. Chika
    FAIL

    Good to see...

    ...such academic brains and resources being put to good use.

  33. Andy Burgess

    well...

    ... neither can bees.

    So, are bees angels? Can you distinguish between queen angels, worker angels and honey angels? Can angels sting you? And if they can, will they then die?

  34. LuMan
    Flame

    What a complete twat!

    No, really, he is. A complete tit-head!

    If angels DO exists <insert ancilliary argument here> who's to say that they actually have Human make-up? For a start they don't have genitals (go on, watch Dogma for proof) and Cherubs have blood constituted from Hydrogen, thus making them MUCH more boyant in air!*

    Aside of that, they all have the fecking power of God to help them (for Christ's sake!). Angels and Cherubs could soar like eagles, even if they were TARDIS-shaped, if the Good Lord's whim demanded.

    Professor?? Nob more like!

    *I mean the hydrogen bit, not the genital bit. Although they could have helium ballast tanks where their winkles should be...

  35. Roby
    Thumb Down

    Do something useful

    This UK professor needs to stop wasting time telling us things that anyone with common sense knew anyway. And he wrote a paper on this as if it needed to be proven?! Were all the serious research topics taken?

    It seems to me that a lot of 'science' news lately has just been 'proving' what everyone knew anyway, such as - examples from today - whisky and red wine give a worse hangover than vodka, or women are worse at parking than men. What a worthwhile study that was!

  36. toby mills

    Thats what they said about Bee's

    For ages Bee's flight went unexplained. Im sure this case is the same. Until he has an actual specimen im going to side with fantasy!

    1. Andus McCoatover
      Headmaster

      Thats what they said about Bee's

      "For ages Bee's flight went unexplained"

      You mean bumblebee, rather than honey bee. Former nests underground, latter in man-made, expensive homes, which would rival an MP's duckhouse for comfort. See http://www.britishbee.org.uk/

      Using Bee's rather than Bees suggests you're referring to either the extinct Norweigian airline, Busy Bee, or the Italian Air Bee. Yep, in which case, I agree. They both went unexplained. Or, took flight. If possible for a (bumble)bee.

      I preferred Buzz, till Ryanair took it. Then, I didn't. Natch.

      Merry Christmas, I'm outta here.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon
        Joke

        Sir

        I'm sorry, but that sounds too much like

        "What do you mean, an African swallow or European?"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Alert

          Do coconuts feature

          in the scenario?

  37. Andus McCoatover
    Joke

    Superman could!!

    Honest! He didn't even have wings. Or, does that mean I used my childhood pocket money on DC Comics (which my teacher used to confiscate as "American Trash") was wasted? Suppose the Prof's gonna say next that Santa can't possibly fly in a reindeer-pulled sledge, and wreck the kids' Christmas.

    One thing, Prof. It was said by Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, London, no less - to which my daughter at 6 weeks old was the youngest visitor (Sir Patrick Moore adored her) - that "Heavier than air flying machines are impossible*"

    You don't need wings to be an angel. Personally, I think it's a part-time job, you don't even know you've got. Right place, right time. Pity the pay's crap - can't even bonk a Virgin as a perk nowadays, since the're an endangered species.

    * Eight years later, the Wright brothers disproved this Wise Learned Gentleman.

    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2007/09/lord-kelvin-1895-heavier-than-air.html

  38. Robert Ramsay

    If you believe in angels and fairies...

    ...then they don't have to obey the laws of physics...

    BECAUSE THEY DON'T EXIST!!!!

    Really, some so called "scientists" seem to have plenty of time on their hands...

    1. Bill Fresher

      Prove it

      You believe they don't exist. Please provide proof.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Research Discovers Artists Use Symbolism In Art

    So, for Angels, the good prof. examines illustrations and artwork to draw is conclusion. Which is like looking at a painting of a car made by someone who had only read about one in a book, and making conclusions over what sort of propulsion it uses.

    The popular image of angels as having wings is simply a device by artists and painters throughout the ages to identify them as angels, as they supposed to be able to move from heaven to Earth and hover about in the sky scaring shepherds half to death. They could fly, therefore wings, as birds fly and have wings.

    Michaelangelo could hardly have painted an arrow pointing to a character and wrote "Angel" in latin or whatever. The idea of a "Halo" over a saint or angel or divine being is simply another artistic device to differentiate the characters in a scene. The "Ring Halo" is a stylised form of the halo of light used in artworks. The devil pictured as a reptillian red monster is another example of symbolism in religious art.

    And yes, there are descriptions of Cherubs or Cherubin in the Bible with wings, but these are different creatures from the "common" angel. The depiction of these as plump babies as with wings is again symbolic artistic licence.

    The prof. has mistaken symbolism in art for a technical drawing. And has gone on to publish a paper stating that "Creatures that don't exist cant fly." No offence to believers in angels and / or fairies, I respect your beliefs even if they might differ from mine. Was the prof. last in the jobs line and got the one nobody else wanted?

  40. GeorgeTuk
    Gates Halo

    Academics wasting time and money...Official.

    Why even bother?

    But got me thinking, what if someone drew an anatomically correct and flying angel, that would be fine and prove something?! Quick someone draw it and send it in, we can prove angels can fly.

  41. Richard 120
    WTF?

    Uh?

    Things that don't exist can't do stuff?

    Who knew....

    Of course the sad thing is there are religious people that believe in these things and what keeps those angels and cherubs up in the air is "faith" or "belief"

  42. LinkOfHyrule
    Troll

    Angels, Ferries

    We need top scientists to now prove that Smurfs can't be blue and that trolls can't live under bridges.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Trolls under bridges

      nah they are long gone due to the diligance of the offspring of the billygoats Gruff who kicked the s**t out of them.

  43. David Adams
    Coat

    Complete rubbish

    Everyone knows that Angels and Fairies are Ethereal and as such aren't subject to the normal rules of the mortal plane such as gravity and force.

  44. dreadful scathe
    FAIL

    Fictional creatures can't fly in the real world shocker.

    who would have thought it

  45. Sir Runcible Spoon
    Joke

    Sir

    This bloke obviously doesn't understand that Angels are simply the representation our mind creates to try and assimilate the interdimensional being that we are presented with.

    Religious artworks are a source of reference for such beings obviously, so when confronted with an interdimensional being (who isn't flying - they are simply occupying a slightly different locale that to our point of view just happens to look like flying) it is only logical that people see an 'Angel' or 'Cherub'.

    Personally my interdimensional beings take the form of a large chocolate chip cookie with a dollop of whipped cream on top. It's hard to tell them apart from UFO's at night time !

  46. Graham Dawson Silver badge

    I recall the same thingwas said about bees

    Granted, bees are physical entities that can be empirically studied, whereas angels are spiritual noncorporeal beings that are only represented in certain ways in art because it looks pretty. No biblical or religious account of angels ever mentions wings.

    Assuming angels exist and assuming they take on the popular appearance, that doesn't mean they can't fly. It just means that if they were an actual physical creature they wouldn't be able to fly. but they aren't an actual physical creature. Any appearance they might hypothetically adopt would be just that - an appearance. A mask. A persona.

    What I'm trying to say is that angels as depicted in popular imagery don't exist.

    Now, a more important question that needs answering is, does a Balrog have wings?d how many politicians can dance on the tip of a wind turbine blade?

    1. prathlev
      Troll

      Of course Balrogs have wings

      Duh!

    2. Captain Thyratron

      Just for the record...

      Bees are a common retort to this sort of thing; however, the thing about bees is that they're small.

      Bee wings are tiny, and it is not very hard for them to move extremely quickly. If you tried to do that with a wing of, say, a meter in size, something would fail rather catastrophically. A helicopter is a better analogue to the flight of a bee than a bird.

      (I might also add that aerodynamics aren't quite the same on that size scale as they are for, say, things the size of people. I cannot, however, presently be arsed to figure out the Reynold's number for a bee's wing in air.)

  47. Rob 30
    WTF?

    no science needed here

    surely angels are powered by god magic in disregard of all observable phenomenon?

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Like that's going to stop the rabid tide of believers....

    They'll just claim angels are metaphysical beings....

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Troll

      Sir

      and you know this how?

  49. Tim Schomer
    Pint

    Of course they can

    Haven't you heard, Faith can move mountains!, so it sure as hell can make Angels fly.

    Fairies - being Magical creatures - are supported by the power of magic and therefore don't need to adhere to the laws of physics (I wonder if Scotty ever wished he had a Magic wand...)

    I think the acedemic is trying to say that in a Universe where only physical laws were available and in relation to the models that we currently know work; they can't fly. (Wasn't that what they said about the Bumble Bee?)

    / it's nearly Christmas. Hic

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Iconographism

      And, more to the point, depictions of angels are intended to be symbolic, not literal. Same goes for most other iconographic images. Like halos: if Jesus had had a halo, all of Judea would have believed!

  50. Ragarath
    IT Angle

    Erm what does this have to do with...

    Beings that are meant to be in some way magical / empowered? Angels are the messengers of God (erm let me see an all powerful being would not allow his messengers to fly) and Fairies are magical beings that obviously use erm magic to fly!

    Now I can tell you this without wasting money looking at pieces of art.

  51. DI_Wyman
    Grenade

    I bet...

    Santa is stuffed as well!

  52. ravenviz
    Thumb Down

    "They take messages to heaven and therefore have to fly"

    er, this research was flawed from the outset

  53. Ball boy

    We *paid* his salary for this?

    The mind boggles.

    Anyway, why would a heavenly body need wings in the first place? Surely they would be able to fly without needing to bow to basic physical requirements such as lift, thrust, drag and mass - if they're able to grant wishes and dreams, perhaps these devices are there to appease human followers (who may need to see the bleedin’ obvious).

    Mind you, the devil seems to get about rather well without needing any aeronautical appendages – perhaps they need to have a word.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    So called scientist?

    Did he not check the definitive source?

    If he had checked out the "Good Book” and preferably a decent version circa the Reign of King James (and not one of the more recent dumb down versions) he would clearly see that the medieval and Victorian fantasy angels have no resembles to the being or entities described in the book.

    He has just undertaken the scientific equivalent of doing his research by a) asking a man in the pub, b) looking on wiki and c) Friday afternoon after the pub goo-yah-binging

    or, his is just trying to shamelessly get some publicity for his university faculty?

    after all, these are Angels, not Avians!? On that basis the rules of Physics or Biology do not not apply

    ....is it home time yet?

  55. DrunkenMessiah
    IT Angle

    Um...

    Clearly he's totally forgotten that these creatures are MAGIC! Hello, Heaven to Boffin! Jeez, it's like the guy's never seen that documentary Dogma.

    1. Cameron Colley

      That documentary lied!

      I have managed to listen to both Jagged Little Pill and Under Rug Swept and I'm still in one piece...

  56. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    The good Prof misses the point.

    If you are going to believe in an omnipotent being with supernatural creative powers akin to extreme magic (after all, if you believe in angels then you have to believe in a "God"), then it is quite simple to suppose the angels are not bound by conventional physiology but have either "magicaly" super-strong shoulder muscles, or another means of levitating (maybe the "wings" are actually anti-gravity generators). I'm guessing the good Prof simply has too much time on his hands for real research, and knocking religeous beliefs was an easier way to garner a bit of publicity than real work.

    What would be more challenging (and fun), would be if some of these scientists, so quick and keen to disprove obviously pointless stuff, instead spent time speculating about how the impossible could be possible. After all, it's easy to discount angels - they would need a wingspan of at least forty feet to lift the human form vertically from rest, accompanied by the extreme muscle structure mentioned by the Prof - but wouldn't it be more fun to kick back and theorise on silly ways they could be possible? You could start with the assumption that the historic renderings of angels have been altered to make the angels appear more human (ever seen even relatively recent historic drawings made by Europeans of some of the wildlife of Africa or Australasia?), which then leaves the possibility that "real" angels might have had the heavier muscle structure required for flight but it was "edited" out through history. Or that the wings are simply mankind's way of rationalising the angels' ability to fly, and that they actually had holy jet packs (channelling Erich von Daniken, moi!?!). After all, science without a bit of fun every now and again is just boring. I think the funniest bit of "research" I ever saw was when some Cambridge big-wig used maths theory to prove to a room of his contempories that two equalled root-two - impossible, unscientific, and so much fun to watch all those assembled math geniuses trying to spot the flaw in his theory, because having to admit that their bedrock maths was nothing more than approximations was too painful for them!

    As long as no-one takes it too seriously or gets offended then it's all good and fun. And, BTW, angels are obviously fictional, unlike Santa!

  57. ravenviz
    Happy

    Angels can't fly but Dilbert can

    http://www.dilbert.com/2009-11-04/

  58. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Get a proper job

    Seriously, do something of benefit to society. What a prat. I remember having a discussion in secondary school science about this subject and it was over in about 2 minutes.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Normally, I laugh at research projects like this ...

    ...but anything to wind up the religious fanatics a little more is just perfect in my books. ; - )

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    News just in...

    Scientists have also been able to confirm that no angels can't dance on the head of a pin either. This shocking revelation is based on the paintings of them being roughly human sized and pins, in general, being small.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Flame

      Sir

      "no angels can't dance on the head of a pin"

      Yeah, you wanna be AC posting a double negative like that!

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try to remember ...

    Why assume the principle of uniformity to be true? Sure, it makes life easier, but it ain't exactly proven.

  62. peyton?
    Gates Halo

    Try again

    I sure he's trying to be clever or funny, but he could at least try and answer a question that somebody has actually bothered to asked, i.e., "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

    He even got his Judeo-Christian tradition wrong. I not an expert, but I don't think angels ever take messages to heaven (people, occasionally, but not messages). I believe they are most always bringing proclamations down to the quivering masses. If he's found they can't glide, he needs to then follow up and determine if they can survive impact as they come screeching in from above, like some sort of hallowed meteor.

    1. Dave Harris Bronze badge
      Go

      At last!!!

      Someone has asked the right question

  63. Parax
    Badgers

    What Next?

    Reindeer?

    Bah Humbug.

  64. redbook

    Next paper..

    I'm guessing will cover elephants and pigs.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Dragon flight was explained...

    In the cartoon documentary, "Flight of Dragons," it was explained that dragons eat limestone. It is crushed in their craw and swallowed to mix with stomach acids to form hydrogen. When the dragon expands its chest, it eventually achieves a degree of weightlessness and can fly. The wings are meant for propulsion and stearing. The thick skin was needed to contain the hydrogen.

    Should the dragon wish to descend, it simply lets the gas out ... burps, in effect. The gas passes, "Thors Thimble" in the mouth, which generates an amount of natural static electricity and ignites the gas and gives dragon fire, hence the ability to breathe fire. Should a dragon expel all its gas, it has to eat more limestone and/or allow time for more gas build up.

    This is why dragons rob dwarf mines ... they didn't eat the dwarves themselves as the meat wasn't worth picking off the bones; the threat was enough to get the lime stone.

    Simple, possible physics when you come down to it. None of this scientists mumbo jumbo and farcical presumption.

    I think this reference was also observed by Terry Pratchet in his various Discworld novels. Young dragons whos stomachs weren't yet thick enouch to properly contain hydrogen, had a propensity towards spontanious combustion ... contributing towards the scarcity and ultimately death of the species.

  66. Hollerith 1

    And they laugh at medieval scholastics...

    'How many angels can dance on the head of a pin' is seen as medievial scholars arguing specious and silly arguments. But this is asking 'are angels corporeal and therefore fixed entities or are they incorporeal and can change size and shape, and indeed not even take up any dimensions in the solid world at all, but rather live in our minds and souls?'

    So medieval scholars with access to about eight books can explore the metaphysical and spiritual dimensions of faith at a higher level than a modern professor, and can understand that symbolic trappings (wings, halo, whatever) are needed merely to represent the spiritual.

    1. JimC
      Happy

      @Hollerith/ medieval scholastics...

      As I've said before one of the few things that's more amusing than someone who knows nothing about evolution theory pontificating about how its false is someone who is equally ignorant of theology pontificating away about that...

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @LinkOfHyrule

    "trolls can't live under bridges." - mostly true but there is an exception for those that have internet connections and frequent bulletin boards and forums supporting Scientology.

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      Paris Hilton

      Paris moment

      I'm 'having a Paris moment' as I don't get it!

      I can't work out if you are commending me for a witty posting or slatting me or you think I'm a Scientologist troll!

      Either way, I am only offended if you think I am a Scientologist, if you just think I suck at comments then we're cool! :o)

      Paris, 'cus I'm like all thick and stuff this afternoon

  68. Andus McCoatover

    Whoahhh!!!

    Now {There's} a design concept for Vulture-1! Surely?

    Ok, sorry Lester, for calling you "Shirley".

  69. darkmooink
    Pint

    santa cant exist

    there was a study done by some bored students showing that santa would burn up in less than 1 second due to friction if he ever existed. but i have also known friends work out how many flys it would take to stop a train and i have also worked out that you would have to be travelling over 5 times the speed of light for 30 seconds to Mars to be true

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Screw all this angel stuff...

    the papers title was "Angels, Putti, Dragons and Fairies: Believing the Impossible"...

    So can Dragons fly? Enquiring minds want to know... =P

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Dragons can fly?

      Pfft... Of course they can, and you better know when they do it too, ie Onyxia phase 2.

  71. Alien8n
    Alien

    But...

    But everyone knows that angels are actually Vorlons in disguise...

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      @Alien8n

      But who said that that was a disguise? The encounter suite was the disguise.

  72. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Looking forward to recreational genetic engineering

    A home made human sized angel would be inconvenient. If you make one with a human brain your new toy might be upset about having wings that are only for show.

    Lady Cottington's pressed fairies are about the size of a human hand. If you have the skills to put insect wings on a miniature human body then your can use insect muscles (stronger than mammal muscle) and you might be able to make it fly. Also as the brain on a miniature fairy couldn't win a debate against a rabbit so there is less chance that your creation will get upset and stick needles in your eyes while you sleep.

    For a really advanced project, try getting a lizard to burp methane (the stuff that powers your gas cooker and also comes out the back end of a cow). First person to make a fire breathing lizard wins a pair of singed eyebrows.

  73. Eddy Ito
    Pint

    Fairies and Angels and Putti! Oh my!

    Yes, yes Professor. I'm sure the wings, while not able to give flight, are there as a symbol of virility to members of the opposite sex. Exactly, it's a peacock thing. It's like saying, "come breed with me, I have big... wings! And while angels may or may not have a pea-cock it's immaterial since their sexual organs are located between the third and fourth tier of intercoursal feathers on the back of each wing.

    And he claims to be a biologist even without the most basic knowledge of puttine anatomy, bah! Now on to more serious matters like "the transport and fate of faecal matter impacting an axial flow cooling turbine."

  74. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Spocks Rocket Boots?

    As seen in Star Trek 5: The Final Frontier hiding under those long robes of theirs.

    PH because she has no fear of flying either.

  75. Jolyon Ralph
    FAIL

    re: Dragon flight was explained...

    As any fool knows, limestone reacts with stomach acids to give off carbon dioxide, not hydrogen.

    So other than a slight increase in global temperatures due to global warming, you shouldn't be too worried about dragon breath.

    jolyon

  76. Ian Michael Gumby
    Boffin

    C'mon... did the twat forget his n dimensional string theory?

    The angels don't necessarily exist only in our space/time plain, but also within a different plain so that the laws of physics don't necessarily apply.

    When you are a multi-dimensional being, you can do all sorts of things. The wings are there only for our viewing pleasure. ;-)

  77. ratfox
    FAIL

    In related news

    God cannot exist because He would break the second law of thermodynamics.

    ...But apparently, the good professor's research is full of cr*p anyway, so...

  78. Nick G
    Flame

    Perhaps

    They're helped by Bumble Bees?

  79. Irp
    FAIL

    Vorlons

    Look, Angels is the Vorlons. Do not mock them, as they is magicians and are easily upset

    If he doesn't get that he needs to be watching more B5. It will give him something useful to do.

    That is all, and no less sensical than his musings on the subject.

  80. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    Here be dragons ( and cover-ups )

    Put aside Fayries and Angels, I don't see much in his report to actually discredit the flying abilities of dragons and to be absolutely honest I'm more worried about those, seeing as they are packed full of sulphur or such like and breath fire, not to mention they are considerably larger and have on the whole a worse temperament than Fayries or Angels.

    I suspect there is a hidden motive here; to discredit flying abilities of Fayries and Angels and by association discredit that of dragons, simply because they are considered equally part of myth. I don't believe one follows from the other even if Fayries and Angels cannot fly ( and I am not convinced by that ).

    Now why would Wotton have such a motive ? Could it be he is seeking to lull us into a false sense of security on the very real dangers of flying, fire-breathing dragons ? Just what does Wotton have in his basement and what are his plans for world domination ? This work could be the final nail in the coffin for the 'Dragon Defence Shield' I had proposed building. It will certainly make my efforts to secure funding from the Home Office more difficult. Being locked up 23 hours a day and on forced medication is making progress difficult enough as it is.

    Be very afraid.

    Mine's the one with the 'Dragon Spotter's Handbook' and a double-bastard sword attached.

  81. Spudders
    WTF?

    We all Know....

    Fairy dust and happy thoughts is used - for fairies to fly

    Angels will have their own form of "dust" as God is all powerful after all

    Ps - santa is real

  82. Jeff Deacon
    Pint

    In previous years

    In previous years he would have been part of the research team that proved flight was impossible for the Bumble Bee. Its a good job that Bumble Bees never read research papers. I doubt angels do either, unless its to have a good giraffe at the pomposity of the fool. Good bit of self publicity though!

    Have a beer to celebrate!

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Angels can't fly

    So they levitate.

    Either way, who cares?

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re:re: Dragon flight was explained...

    Well, I'm just some poor computer hack and know nothing about chemistry. I just take the higher knowledge of a cartoon reference work and run with it :-D

  85. Richard 102
    Pint

    Well good

    It's nice to know that all of the questions and the problems of the world have been solved to such a degree that crap like this gets research funding.

  86. Oninoshiko
    Alien

    eltit

    Maybe they just trip and miss the ground...

    (apologies to the late Mr. Adams)

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Take a closer look at that Halo...

    ...clearly a scramjet intake.

    Angels don't have genitals, because the inital jump to Mach 4.5 (required for scramjet initiation) would / have ripped 'em right off.

    Other entities (e.g. baby jesus, saints and the pope) who may need to pop between earth and Heaven, also have scramjets / halos - which are required to cover the vast distance in a reasonable time.

    The reason that angels have wings is because they sometimes need to navigate around the earth, so that they can worry sheep in Judea one day, rant about recidivism in Mecca the next, then drop acid with L Ron Hubbard to relax at the weekend.

    Do I win a PhD?

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a haiku

    When Christmas comes

    The thoughts of some academics

    Turn to self-publicity...

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    One day

    Why is this man paid with public money? Methinks he has just signed his own P45.

    To all of those who don't believe in God or the power of prayer, then I say this to you. You will die, this is a certainty you cannot avoid, it is coming, the clock ticks and you will be judged for your actions and words on this realm . Best pray or hope for oblivion then.

    Have a very merry Christmas, or all you non believers can still work on as why celebrate something you don't believe in, hypocrites

    1. jake Silver badge

      @AC 21:26

      I celebrate Solstice, as has been celebrated for tens of thousands of years longer than your "Christianity". (I'm not a pagan, I just like the fact that the days are getting longer now!) Besides, Tax Time in the Roman Era was in the Spring, not Mid-Winter. Joseph and Mary would have been traveling in April or May. I crack up every time I see a nativity scene surrounded by snow ... Don't the idiots realize that a baby would freeze to death in such a scenario?

      Besides, which divinity should one pray to, pray tell? Mankind has had tens of thousands of them over the years, your chance of picking the right one out of the bunch is slim to nil. So go ahead and pray to your god ... but you'll feel a right silly bugger if there IS an afterlife and Ra wants to know why you've been praying to a false idol. Or worse, Kali ... or Woden. Surely the proverbial "thinking man" should say "I don't know", and then apologize when arriving on the other side (assuming, of course).

      It completely blows my mind that the various religions still manage to brainwash people into believing such absolute drivel in what is supposed to be a more modern, enlightened era.

      1. phoenix
        Alert

        Never ceases to amaze me

        that Christianity and belief in God winds people up so much including Dawkins. If people want to believe in these thing so what it harms no one. BTW the reason Christmas is at this time was the early Christian church wanted to supplant the pagan beliefs and the easiest way to get a new religion off the ground as to use the current festivals hence all saints (all hallows even - Halloween) on 31 st Oct which is Samhain and Christmas which is some pagan winter festival.

        Angels only have wings because of renaissance painters painted them that way so the whole experiment was crap from the start even if one believed in them. Science is starting to full up with complete muppets bit like some other religions. May be it's time to decry them with as much fervour as they current squeak about other's "simple" beliefs. I wish I was as wise as they claim to be - claim as they should be wise enough to shut up sometimes.

    2. phoenix
      Thumb Down

      Harsh words

      Reading the bible would let you know that you to will be judged aswell and it is only by the belief in Christ that you shall have your sins covered by this shed blood, or if you are Muslim you need to get on with the 5 Piilars of Islam or Jew keeping to an inordinate number of rules, as for the other religions - heck knows. As for Christmas keeping one assumes you are not a Jehovas Witness as they frown upon celebrating a pagan festival.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Troll

      I have half a mind to write a strongly worded letter.

      I believe in your haste you missed the icon you wanted. Here you go.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laden or unladen?

    That wasn't addressed at all in the research.

    1. mmiied

      tital

      african or european angle?

      1. phoenix
        Go

        Angel maybe

        and were any coconuts involved??

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The words of the reference...

    Watching the film now. Dwarf mines are robbed for gem stones. The dragons swallow the gem stones which sit in the craw and are used to pulverise the "white fire rock" (limestone) - like birds use grit to grind feed.

    Limestone is high in calcium - calcium mixed with stomach acids form hydrogen.

    Dragon lift ... according to the all knowing cartoon reference.

  92. heyrick Silver badge
    WTF?

    Dude, get a REAL job.

    Until a scientist can PROVE God, Angels, Jesus etc are real and an active part of the universe, it seems like something of a waste of time to be looking to see whether of not angels as depicted (for we have no actual photographs) can actually fly.

    So, please, go do some serious research. For example, the blood group preferences of vampires. Enquiring minds want to know...

  93. Big-nosed Pengie

    Angels fly on god power

    The wings are just for decoration.

  94. Steve Roper
    Stop

    Man-sized creatures CAN fly

    I refer the good prof to the Linnet I and II, built by the Japanese back in the 60s that were solely human-powered aircraft. By pedalling furiously, a human pilot can fly the Linnet around 150 feet or so.

    http://www.probertencyclopaedia.com/cgi-bin/res.pl?keyword=Linnet+I&offset=0

    Now if the muscles of a man can do this, albeit that the Linnet converts muscular energy to mechanical advantage, why can't a man-sized creature that flies exist? As to needing huge muscles to do so - no, increased muscular DENSITY would do as well. Compare for example the strength of a chimpanzee to the strength of a human - they're smaller, but a hell of a lot stronger.

    Also, pteranodons.

  95. Bounty
    Grenade

    Pteradactyl

    I'm pretty sure Dragons can fly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pteradactyl

    Also, unless you've dissected an angel, I don't see how you can determine if they can fly. Are their bones hollow? How much does an angels digestive track weigh?

    Better headline " Scientists dissect angel! "

  96. Renato
    Pint

    Flight

    Angels drink Red Bull before flying.

    1. Rodrigo Rollan
      Coffee/keyboard

      LMAO

      Red bull Gives you Wings !

  97. Tony Paulazzo
    Gates Halo

    God says...

    >To all of those who don't believe in God or the power of prayer, then I say this to you. You will die, this is a certainty you cannot avoid,<

    As will all those who do.

    As to the article, what is this guys stance on Vorlons?

    If we assume Earth is the gross material plane, then Heaven would be pure spiritual plane - along with its inhabitants, not bound by the laws of the physical universe, ergo his 'findings' are wrong. If he'd said, 'humans with working butterfly wings couldn't fly.' I'd have no problems with that. In conclusion - twat.

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    So, what's next.

    I got a good laugh out of this.

    This be the same guy who will later meet his timely death trying to proof that black is white at the next zebra crossing??

    We need a Douglas Adams icon.

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    No no no NO!!

    Load of rubbish. Of course Angels fly, it says so in the bible and a lot of people believe it so it must be true. What do they expect? The Angel of our Blessed Lord to abseil from a helicopter?? There were no helicopters then, idiots, and any way they'd have scared the shepherds flocks off and they're in the school nativity scenes, so it MUST be true. And what about the wise men - proves my point? Can you imagine Wise Men turning up to see a bloke with fake wings and a good line in FX abseiling from a Huey (which the Israelis would have shot down anyway claiming it was the Hamas air force)?

    Next they'll be saying Jesus wasn't the son of God and that's rubbish cos my mum says he was and so does the bible so it MUST be true.

    Mine's the one with "Jesus wants you as a sunbeam" lovingly hand embroidered on the back.

  100. pctechxp
    Grenade

    Who pays these tossers

    To research this shit, oh yeah we do along with students studying worthwhile Degrees (read: anything but media studies, psychology, arts or these craxy qualifications about a celebutard) to actually make a difference.

    Have they found a cure for:

    CJD/vCJD?

    Cancer?

    Ebola/Marburg?

    HIV/AIDS?

    Carious other incurable conditions?

    What's that you say? No?

    So why are w**kers like this paid to research and write stuff like this?

    He really needs to be fired along with the moron that signed off the research.

    OK I'm not a Professor and I don't have a Degree but I'd really like some money to go to Canada for a couple of weeks to discover whether Bears do indeed shit in the woods as I really think the confirmation of this theory would benefit himanity.

    Where do I apply? About 150K should be enough.

  101. Jim Coleman
    FAIL

    So...

    Anyway, why didn't God put anything in the bible that the writers didn't already know? Like maybe E=mc2 or the fact the Earth revolves around the sun, or that matter is made of atoms? Would have helped his case immeasurably. As it happens, there is nothing, nada, zilch, in that book that wasn't already common knowledge. Talk about missing a trick! God speaks to his creations and reveals......nowt!

  102. John Stirling
    Pint

    useless research haters

    To be sure this isn't what we are paying for, I think he does the real research the rest of the year - this is just a bit of seasonal frivolity - for a laugh.

    I'm sure those who dislike such rubbish research will say that he should not be allowed to have fun occasionally, and perhaps their own lives reflect this commitment to serious discourse.

    Oh, wait, they have posted here - that's pretty frivolous.

  103. Sceptical Bastard

    I suspect....

    ... some of you people aren't taking this very seriously. I reckon Michelle Knight has the right of it (above).

    Anyway (given that to any rational person a religion is simply a set of imaginings), surely a made-up god can have made-up acolytes exhibiting made-up powers and attributes without some dipstick academic going off on one?

    BTW, are angels strictly a phenomenon of Judao-Christian religions? Or do winged female humanoids feature in other world faiths? Just asking ...

    Happy Christmas, all

  104. Graham Bartlett

    Angels shmangels

    To quote the classic Rowan Atkinson sketch:-

    Satan: "OK, and the Christians over here please - yes, the Jews were right all along..."

    Hallelujah brother, I believe! Yes, I believe I'll have another pint...

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @darkmooink On the subject of Santa...

    It might help to understand how Santa exists ... I wrote a fan episode for Futurama that explains the whole thing. Enjoy ... http://life-of-a-stranger.blogspot.com/2006/05/futurama-script-that-will-never-be.html ... not that there is anyone reading the comments on this thread any more now, of course.

  106. Martin Silver badge
    Happy

    Bah Humbug?

    Blimey - there are a bunch of old miseries on here. "He's being funded by taxpayer's money! Outrageous!" Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well.

    It's Christmas. He's just done a bit of a calculation for the fun of it. A bit like the people who did all the calculations about what would happen if Santa were real.

    I thought it was quite funny.

  107. Martin Huizing
    Jobs Halo

    Actually....

    They use the halo for holding on to. They just let it go for a second for the photo to be taken (or picture being drawn ;) Massive athletes these Angels!

  108. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    To all those poking fun at the religeous.... and Santa.

    It is a sad comment on the state of Western civilisation that you are quite happy to ridicule Christians, but wouldn't dare do the same to other Middle Eastern religions.....

    And as for the Santa bashers, haven't you heard of his time-warping transporter? Sheesh, you guys are so barking up the wrong tree! Only real nooooooobs try arguing the flying-sleigh-would-burn-up angle nowadays.

  109. markp 1
    FAIL

    facepalm.jpg

    They're spiritual beings, by all accounts. Other references have them small enough to hold breakdance battles on pinheads. So maybe they're a form of Star Trekkian energy organism. Obviously their appearance to us as wingéd humanoids is just an illusion, a convenient social construct to allow them to communicate with us without things getting _too_ wierd.

    Also they're agents of God, they can probably do whatever they da.... er, blesséd well like.

    Got to hand the guy a "nice try" laurel, however. Never mind that it's been a staple of biology lessons (focussing on avians) for quite some time to point out that the average human would need drastic re-engineering (hollow bones, much improved lung mass, strengthened sternum and the like) to support active flight beyond just strapping a pair of wings (again, please ignore that this effectively makes them 6-limbed) to their back... a gold star 5/5 award from the university of obvious reseach :D

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