Fractal Fluids

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Part of the beauty of numerical simulation is its ability to explore the physics of a situation that would difficult or impossible to create experimentally. Here the Rayleigh-Taylor instability–which occurs when a heavier fluid sits atop a lighter fluid–is simulated in two-dimensions. Viscosity and diffusion are set extremely low in the simulation; this is why we see intricate fractal-like structures at many scales rather than the simulation quickly fading into gray. (The low diffusion is also what causes the numerical instabilities in the last couple seconds of video.) The final result is both physics and art. (Video credit: Mark Stock)

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