Protruding Fingers

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Instability is a common feature of fluid flows and can generate a near infinite set of patterns. The video above shows the Saffman-Taylor instability, an interface instability that occurs when a fluid of lower viscosity is injected into a higher viscosity fluid. In this case, the fluids inhabit a thin space between two glass plates. The less viscous fluid displaces the more viscous one in a series of branching finger-like shapes. If the situation were reversed, with a more viscous fluid injected into a less viscous one, the interface would be stable and expand radially without any pattern formation. (Video credit: William Jewell College)

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