Phenomena

Spiraling Break-up

Instabilities in fluids are sometimes remarkable in their uniformity. Here we see a hollow spinning cup with a thin film of fluid flowing down the interior. The rim of fluid at the cup’s lip stretches into long, evenly spaced, spiraling threads. These filaments stretch until centrifugal forces overcome surface tension and viscous forces and break the liquid into a multitude of tiny droplets. This process is called atomization and is vital to everyday applications like internal combustion and inkjet printing. (Photo credit: R. P. Fraser et al.)

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