This experiment involves two liquids and a machine that will jiggle them. That’s all. So how does it create a family of “worms” that branch out from and interact with each other? Check out this incredible video.
If you want to see the razzle-dazzle in this one, skip to 1:55, and then prepare to be amazed. What’s happening? Well, you’ve probably noticed that when you jiggle a cup of liquid up and down, you make waves, some of which are repetitive and dull and some of which make ever-evolving patterns. Physicists wondered what would happen if the liquid were “floating” instead of contained.
They couldn’t levitate a droplet of liquid in air, but they could do it in a more viscous liquid. The drop now “hovers” without any constraints. Throughout the video they play around with different physical values, like the amplitude of the waves and the properties of the liquid.
This is what happens when the droplet has a combination of low surface tension and a high amplitude of oscillation. It turns into a worm, and that worm is “unstable.” Keep shaking the liquid hard and the worm expands and grows into an interconnected family of worms. These seemingly split off from each other, form new shapes, and then get back together.
It’s just liquid being shaken, but if you removed the information on the video, I’d swear the little worms were alive. Cool, huh?