Phenomena

Ig Nobel Fluids: Shower Curtain Science

Nearly everyone has faced the frustration of a shower curtain billowing inwards to stick to one’s leg. Various explanations have been offered to explain the effect, but David Schmidt won the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for a numerical simulation suggesting that the spray of droplets from the shower head drives a horizontal vortex whose axis of rotation is perpendicular to the shower curtain. Since vortices have a low-pressure region in their core, this weak shower vortex has the power to suck a light curtain inward, much to the chagrin of the shower’s occupant. Of course, a heavier or weighted shower curtain will help avoid the effect. This post is part of a series on fluids-related Ig Nobel Prizes. (Photo credit: W. Taylor; research credit: D. Schmidt)

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