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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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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.

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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"

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Troll

Angels, Ferries

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

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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.

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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.

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FAIL

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

who would have thought it

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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 !

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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?

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Troll

Of course Balrogs have wings

Duh!

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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.)

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WTF?

no science needed here

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

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Unhappy

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

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

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Troll

Sir

and you know this how?

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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

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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!

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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.

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Grenade

I bet...

Santa is stuffed as well!

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Thumb Down

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

er, this research was flawed from the outset

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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.

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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?

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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.

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That documentary lied!

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

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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!

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Happy

Angels can't fly but Dilbert can

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

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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.

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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. ; - )

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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.

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Flame

Sir

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Go

At last!!!

Someone has asked the right question

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Badgers

What Next?

Reindeer?

Bah Humbug.

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Next paper..

I'm guessing will cover elephants and pigs.

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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.

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Bronze badge

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.

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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...

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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.

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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

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Bronze badge

Whoahhh!!!

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

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

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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

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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

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Dragons can fly?

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

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Alien

But...

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

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@Alien8n

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

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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

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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. ;-)

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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...

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