Fluid Juggling

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It’s that time of the year – the 2013 APS Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting is not far off, and entries to this year’s Gallery of Fluid Motion are starting to appear. This week we’ll be taking a look at some of the early video submissions, beginning with one that you can recreate at home. This video demonstrates a neat interaction between a slightly-inclined liquid jet and a lightweight ball. The jet can stably support–or, as the authors suggest, juggle–the ball under many circumstances, as seen in the video. Initially, the jet impacts near the bottom of the ball and then spreads into a thin film over the surface. This decrease in thickness between the jet and the film is accompanied by an increase in speed due to conservation of mass. That velocity increase in the film corresponds to a pressure decrease because of Bernoulli’s principle. This means that there is a region of higher pressure where the jet impacts the ball and lower pressure where the film flows around the ball. Just as with airflow over an airfoil, this generates a lift force that holds the ball aloft. (Video credit: E. Soto and R. Zenit)

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