Written by Lazy Gardens
The bumblebee is the unofficial company mascot for Mary Kay. Along with the many bejewelled versions of the insect handed out for awards comes the uplifting glurge that is the “Legend of the Bumblebee”. But it’s all a myth.
You see, some time ago a group of aeronautical engineers decided to study the bumblebee. They measured its wingspan, computed body weight, examined its oversized fuselage and concluded that there was no rational reason why a bumblebee can take off or land safely. Of course, the bumblebee doesn’t know this, so it goes ahead and flies anyway!
This glurge is used to plant and reinforce the idea that analytical thinking is untrustworthy and that bee-lief is what really counts. When your tax man says you are losing money, and your husband says the budget can’t afford another retreat, they just have stinkin’ thinkin’ like the nasty old engineers in the legend. Like the bumblebee, you are going to go ahead and do it anyway!
I’m soooooo excited to pop the pink bubble on this bit of PinkThink. First of all, because bumblebees are known to take off, fly and even land safely, an engineer would not claim there was “no rational reason” for it. When what theoretically shouldn’t be happening is happening in front of their eyes, engineers have no problem dumping the theory and figuring out what is really happening.
So where did this bit of glurge come from? The idea goes back to a French entomologist, August Magnan, and a French mathememetician Andre Sainte-Lague, who in 1934 not only calculated that bumblebee flight was impossible, but published it in Magnan’s book, Le vol des insects (the Flight of Insects). What nearly everyone overlooks is that at the end of the paragraph Magnan also wrote, “One shouldn’t be surprised that the results of the calculations don’t square with reality.”
Where did they go wrong? Sainte-Lague used the simple equations for calculating wing lift for ordinary airplanes – with the usual rigid wings. When was the last time you saw a 747, or even a Piper Cub, flap its wings? Bumblees have two wings that not only flap (back and forth, not up and down), but pivot so they are upside down on the backstroke. If you analyse the flight of insects, they are more swimming through air than flying like a bird, using the turbulence to keep themselves aloft and move forward.
No one ever”proved” that a bumblebee can’t fly. The reality is that a simple mathematical model wasn’t adequate or appropriate for describing the complex flight of a bumblebee. Same with your Mary Kay business …¦ the simple “hold X parties a week and you will earn $$$$ from your 50% profit” calculations are probably not going to fly. If you want to treat it like a business, use business math, not Mary Kay math.