Avoiding Splashback

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Here’s a likely Ig Nobel Prize candidate from the BYU SplashLab: a study of splashing caused by a stream of fluid entering a horizontal body of water or hitting a solid vertical surface. In other words, urinal dynamics. The researchers simulated this activity using a stream of water released from a given height and angle and observed the resulting splash with high-speed video. They found a stream falls only 15-20 centimeters before the Plateau-Rayleigh instability breaks it into a series of droplets, and that this is the worst-case scenario for splash-back. The video above shows how a stream of droplets hits the pool, creating a complex cavity driven deeper with each droplet impact. Not only does each impact create a splash, the cavity’s collapse does as well. Similarly, when it comes to solid surfaces, they found that a continuous stream splashes less. They’ve also put together a helpful primer on the best ways to avoid splash-back. (Video credit: R. Hurd and T. Truscott; submitted by Ian N., bewuethr, John C. and possibly others)

For readers attending the APS DFD meeting, you can catch their talk, “Urinal Dynamics,” Sunday afternoon in Session E9 before you come to E18 for my FYFD talk.

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