The Hidden Complexities of the Simple Match

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Striking a match and blowing it out seems rather simple to the naked eye. But with high-speed video and schlieren photography, the act takes on new complexity. Schlieren photography is an optical technique that is incredibly sensitive to changes in density, which makes it a prime choice for visualizing flows with temperatures variations or shock waves. Here it shows the hot gases generated as the match is lit. Once the match ignites, the flow calms somewhat into a gently rising plume of exhaust and hot air. When someone enters the frame to blow out the match, the frame rate increases to capture what happens next. The flow field around the match becomes very complex as the air and flame interact. The range of length scales in the flow increases, from scales of several centimeters down to those less than a millimeter. This complexity and range of sizes  is a hallmark of turbulence. (Video credit: V. Miller et al.)

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