Imagine how tough life would be if raindrops weighed 3 tons apiece as they fell out of the sky at 20 mph. That's how raindrops look to a mosquito, yet a raindrop weighing 50 times more than one can hit the insect and the mosquito will survive.
Put yourself in a mosquito's shoes — or rain boots — for a moment and step outside into a downpour of seemingly gigantic raindrops.
"They're basically plummeting comets falling all around you," says David Hu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. You'd think a mosquito wouldn't stand a chance. "We expected the similar thing to happen as when you drive your car through bugs — you see this bug just splattering."
Yet mosquitoes clearly survive close encounters with raindrops. So Hu's group set out to run an experiment that made the most of their skills as mechanical engineers and biologists.
"Hitting a mosquito with a raindrop is a difficult experiment," he says. "The first thing we did was drop small drops from the third floor story of our building onto a container of mosquitoes, and you can imagine that didn't go very well. It's kind of like playing the worst game of darts you can imagine."
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