The video: The idea of self-propelled human flight has long eluded humankind. That is, at least until Jarno Smeets, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands, fashioned a pair of giant wings with which to attempt to make aeronautical history through his HumanBirdWings project. The secret to his brief, 328-foot flight in January was reportedly in a flapping mechanism that mimicked the motions of his arms, using accelerometers taken from a Nintendo Wii to read his movements while an Android smartphone calculated the wings' corresponding motor output. (Watch a video below.) "I have always dreamed about this," he says after his inaugural flight. "After eight months of hard work, research and testing it all paid off." Or has it?
The reaction: "Move over Orville, Wilbur, and Leo da Vinci, there's a new birdman in town," says Rip Emerson at TechCrunch. This is history in the making, and it's nothing short of a "miracle." Well, quite honestly, "I'm really amazed by this video, because I always dreamed about doing this," says Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo. But the question remains: Is the video real? Several critics — including hang gliders and engineers — claim the video is a sham, pointing to Smeets' awkward takeoff. But others, including Jamie Hyneman of Mythbusters fame, see no reason the video couldn't be genuine. Judge for yourself: