Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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Posts tagged "fluids as art"

Ethereal forms shift and swirl in photographer Thomas Herbich’s series “Smoke”. The cigarette smoke in the images is a buoyant plume. As it rises, the smoke is sheared and shaped by its passage through the ambient air. What begins as a laminar plume is quickly disturbed, rolling up into vortices shaped like the scroll on the end of a violin. The vortices are a precursor to the turbulence that follows, mixing the smoke and ambient air so effectively that the smoke diffuses into invisibility. To see the full series, see Herbich’s website.  (Image credits: T. Herbich; via Colossal; submitted by @jchawner@__pj, and Larry B)

P.S. - FYFD now has a page listing all entries by topic, which should make it easier for everyone to find specific topics of interest. Check it out!

Soap films consist predominantly of water, yet their thin, virtually two-dimensional nature is impossible for water alone to achieve. The small amount of added soap acts as a surfactant, lowering the surface tension of the fluid and preventing it from bursting into droplets. When forming a film, the soap molecules align themselves along the outer surfaces of the film, with their hydrophilic heads among the water molecules and their hydrophobic tails oriented outward. For the most part, the water molecules stay sandwiched between the surfactant layers, forming a film only about as thick as the wavelength of visible light. In fact, the psychedelic colors of a soap film are directly related to the film’s thickness with the black regions being the thinnest. The video above shows a horizontal soap film at the microscopic scale and some of the dynamics exist therein. (Video credit: J. Hart)

Hydrophobic surfaces are great for creating some wild behaviors with water droplets, but they make neat effects with other liquids, too. The viscous honey in the first segment of this Chemical Bouillon video is a great example. Because the honey doesn’t adhere to the hydrophobic surface, the viscoelastic fluid does not maintain the form it had when drizzled on the surface. Instead, the honey contracts, with surface tension driving Plateau-Rayleigh-like instabilities that break the contracting ligaments apart to form nearly spherical droplets of honey on the surface.  (Video credit: Chemical Bouillon

Differences in viscosity or surface tension between two fluids can lead to finger-like instabilities. Here food dye placed on corn syrup forms narrow tendrils driven by the differing surface tensions of the two liquids. Similar dendritic shapes can be generated by injecting a low viscosity fluid into a high viscosity one (Saffmann-Taylor instability) or by pulling apart glass plates sandwiched around a high viscosity fluid. (Photo credit: T. Gaskill et al.)

Paint seems to dance and leap when vibrated on a speaker. Propelled upward, the liquid stretches into thin sheets and thicker ligaments until surface tension can no longer hold the the fluid together and droplets erupt from the fountain. Often paints are shear-thinning, non-Newtonian fluids, meaning that their ability to resist deformation decreases as they are deformed. This behavior allows them to flow freely off a brush but then remain without running after application. In the context of vibration, though, shear-thinning properties cause the paint to jump and leap more readily. For more images, see photographer Linden Gledhill’s website. (Photo credit: L. Gledhill; submitted by pinfire)

Next week marks FYFD’s 4th birthday! It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long, or that the blog and I have come so far. I set out with the intention of explaining fluid dynamics to a broad audience because it’s a subject we all experience daily and yet one that few learn formally. (I also, as you may have guessed from the blog’s name, didn’t take things too seriously.) Many things have surprised me these past four years, but one of my favorites is how much I’ve learned. In researching and writing FYFD, I am constantly learning new and fascinating physics. I love it every time something new stuns me with its beauty, its cleverness, or its jaw-dropping, mind-blowing awesomeness. In celebration of that feeling, next week’s posts will revisit some of my favorite subjects, especially those that did and do amaze me. In the meantime, try not to let the ice cream melt. Unless you’re into that. (Video credit: I. Yang; submitted by Stuart B.)

The Flow II" film by Bose Collins and colleagues features a ferrofluid, a magnetically-sensitive liquid made up of a carrier fluid like oil and many tiny, ferrous nanoparticles. Although ferrofluids are known for many strange behaviors, their most distinctive one is the spiky appearance they take on when exposed to a constant magnetic field. This peak-and-valley structure is known as the normal-field instability. It’s the result of the fluid attempting to follow the magnetic field lines upward. Gravity and surface tension oppose this magnetic force, allowing the fluid to be drawn upward only so far until all three forces balance.  (Video credit: B. Collins et al.)

Photographers Cassandra Warner and Jeremy Floto produced the "Clourant" series of high-speed photographs of colorful liquid splashes. The artists took special care to disguise the origin of splashes, making them appear like frozen sculptures. The photos are beautiful examples of making fluid effects and instabilities. Many of them feature thin liquid sheets with thicker rims just developing ligaments. In other spots, surface tension has been wholly overcome by momentum’s effects and what was once ligaments has exploded into a spray of droplets. (Photo credit: C. Warner and J. Floto; submitted by jshoer; via Colossal)

Chemical Bouillon’s art often mixes chemistry and fluid dynamics. Here dense UV dyes falling through a less dense fluid form long strings with mushroom-like caps or tree-like branches. (For reference, gravity is pointing up relative to the video frame in most clips.) This behavior is related to the Rayleigh-Taylor instability that deforms interfaces and causes mixing between unstably stratified fluids.  (Video credit: Chemical Bouillon)

Janet Waters' abstract photography is full of effects created with fluid dynamics. Diffusion merges different fluids, and gradients in surface tension drive interfacial flows. Changes in density and viscosity produce fingers and streaks and all manner of forms. Be sure to check out her photostream for many more examples of fluids as art. (Photo credits: J. Waters)