Fluid Fingers

Differences in viscosity or surface tension between two fluids can lead to finger-like instabilities. Here food dye placed on corn syrup forms narrow tendrils driven by the differing surface tensions of the two liquids. Similar dendritic shapes can be generated by injecting a low viscosity fluid into a high viscosity one (Saffmann-Taylor instability) or by pulling apart glass plates sandwiched around a high viscosity fluid. (Photo credit: T. Gaskill et al.)

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