How Air Dancers Dance

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Air dancers–those long fabric tubes with fans blowing into the bottom–are a popular way for shops to draw attention. They bend and flutter, shake and kink, all due to the interaction of airflow in and around them with the fabric. When the interior flow is smooth and laminar, the tube will stand upright, with very little motion. As the air inside transitions, some fluttering of the tube can be observed. Ultimately, it is when the air flow becomes turbulent that the cloth really dances. Variations in the flow are strong enough at this point that the tube will occasionally buckle. Behind this constriction, the flow pressure increases until its force is enough to overcome the weight of the tube and lift it once more. (Video credit: A. Varsano)

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