Math May Have The Answer To The Malaysia Airlines Mystery

Indrani Sengupta
Flight 370 has baffled us for over a year now. How could it disappear without leaving no trace, no single piece of debris? Now, we may have an answer.

Last year, the denizens of the Internet were glued to the story about the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. How could something of that size, with so many people aboard—simply vanish? Suggested theories about the MH370’s hapless fate—and the complete lack of debris-- ranged from “terrorist attack” to “alien abduction” (although the latter has been used to explain pretty much everything at this point. Lost socks. Obamacare).

But we may finally have an answer, and it’s from that subject we all loved to hate in high school.

And you thought you’d never need math for anything.

Research published recently in Notices of the American Mathematical Society suggests that, if the plane had nosedived into the ocean at or near a 90-degree angle, its wings would have snapped off and sank. The rest of the plane would have followed intact, disappearing into the depths without so much as a trace. No wayward debris to lead us back to its watery grave.

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

Usually, a plane will bend upon impact, creating a field of debris.

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 Mystery

Mathematician Goong Chen of Texas A&M University admits that we won’t know for sure with current evidence, but for the time being, we’ve got a strong case.  

"The true final moments of MH370 are likely to remain a mystery until someday when its black box is finally recovered and decoded. But forensics strongly supports that MH370 plunged into the ocean in a nosedive."

In the meantime, understanding the science behind the MH370’s crash may help us build safer planes in the future, which is one small spot of hope in an otherwise tragic story.


Read more: It's Not Just MH370: Planes That Vanished Without A Trace