Computational Vortex Rings

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Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) sometimes gets a bad rep as “colorful fluid dynamics”, but as computers get faster and faster, more complicated and physically accurate simulations are possible. Shown here are simulations of vortex rings and wingtip vortices in stunningly gorgeous detail. Understanding the evolution of these vortices from a fundamental level helps fluid mechanicians design better methods of controlling them. As mentioned in the video, wingtip vortices are a particularly hazardous everyday example; the time it takes for one plane’s wingtip vortices to disperse determines how quickly the next airplane can take-off or land on that same runway. Being able to break down these vortices faster would allow more frequent use of existing facilities.

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