The catastrophic collapse of Washington State’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 launched intensive research into the aerodynamics of bridge design. Now a team of South Korean scientists have identified a geometric structure that can better withstand the complicated aerodynamic forces at play—and they found their…
We’ve all experienced that moment of dismay when we open a fresh can of mixed nuts, only to find loathed Brazil nuts at the top of the heap, with the tasty cashews and trusty peanuts all the way down at the bottom. It’s called the Brazil Nut Effect. There’s well-known physics behind why this happens, but it’s a lot…
Two years ago, a Phoenix-based photographer teamed up with physicists at Princeton University to explore the unusually uniform rings a drop of whisky leaves behind when it dries. Now those same physicists have published their findings in Physical Review Letters.
Scientists at Utah State University have figured out how to make the perfect skipping stones. The secret was making sure they were made out of a material that had much more give than stone.
Spherical Rayleigh-Taylor Instabilities, to be exact. That’s what happens when two fluids of different densities collide under the force of gravity. The pattern can be seen in everything from the mushroom clouds of nuclear explosions to cosmic supernovae. But as science photographer Linden Gledhill demonstrates, you…
Seals and otters stay warm in cold water because their fur is ideally structured for trapping insulating air. These unique hairy surfaces could inspire the design of new kinds of textiles, such as wet suits that are textured instead of smooth to keep divers warm in cold water.
The drops of silicone oil bobbing in this mesmerizing video do more than create aesthetically satisfying ripples across a slick surface. They could be indirect evidence of an alternate solution to a nagging question in quantum mechanics — one that dates back almost a century.
Usually, drinking fluids in microgravity requires sucking liquid from a bag through a straw. But now a selection of experimental cups are aboard the International Space Station that allow astronauts to drink a little more normally while in space.
If you’ve watched any modern action movies, you’ve probably got a pretty good mental picture of what happens when a person hemorrhages blood. But this, my friends, is the first scientific visualization of the splatterfest. Squeamish viewers, look away.
Good news for khaki-clad men plagued by speckled staining of their trousers from urine splash back: physicists may have found the optimal splash-suppressing design for a urinal insert, thereby creating a “urine black hole.” Urine gets in, but it can’t get back out.
Sperm usually swim in a 3D shimmy: a spiral wave travels down the whippy flagellum and rotates its head in a circle around its long axis. That “bulk swimming” is fine most of the time, but it isn’t a great option when a sperm cell gets close to a surface. That’s when they switch to “slither” mode.
The lamprey—a jawless, toothy suction funnel that looks like it sprung to life out of the Alien storyboards—is the sort of creature whose existence most of us would prefer not to dwell on. But lampreys are among the most efficient swimmers on Earth, and their unusual stroke could help engineers design low-cost…
They look like the wrath of Hades and Poseidon combined, but these beautiful, fiery clouds, captured by Breckenridge Resort in Colorado, have a simple physical explanation, and it’s rooted in fluid dynamics.
Astronauts on the International Space Station have stepped up the entertainment factor of their fluid dynamics antics. They’ve added food colouring to the already-excellent combination of zero gravity, water droplet, and antacid tablet, creating a sparkly disco ball of pure joy.
Your sewers have T-junctions—places were two pipes come together and form a “T” shape. So do your arteries. A new study has found that these junctions can trap tiny particles of matter, blocking normal healthy flow.
The inexorable, rapidly-rising wall of water of a tsunami is a terrifying, deadly sight. This is the disaster demystified, with all the science to help you survive.
The Weissenberg Effect happens when a fluid behaves in a very counter-intuitive way. Instead of being driven away from a spinning object, it starts climbing. Take a look at something you may have seen at home—but you’ve probably never noticed.
The Coffee Ring Effect is a well-known phenomenon. A puddle of coffee leaves behind a dark ring, instead of a uniform brown stain. This video explains why— and how this phenomenon resembles what happens in an avalanche.
It’s a bad idea to try to put out an oil fire with water, and this video will show you why. It will also show you a drop of water crazily growing and shrinking, over and over, inside some hot oil.
This is a very simple operation. A highly viscous fluid is getting squirted, toothpaste-like, into another fluid. Without any outside prompting, the fluid forms first loops, then bonded figure-eights, and then surprisingly chic-looking fused triangles.