[original media no longer available]

Cavitation–the formation and collapse of vapor-filled cavities within a liquid–occurs in a variety of natural and manmade applications. It can shatter bottles, wreak havoc with boat impellers, is used as a hunting mechanism by several shrimp species, and can even generate light and sound. It is the collapse of the cavitation bubble that can be so damaging, and this video shows how. In the experiment, researchers generate a cavitation bubble near the free surface–or, in other words, near the air-water interface. Pressure in the bubble is much lower than the pressure of the surrounding liquid, so the bubble collapses after the momentum from its initial generation is spent. Interaction with the surface generates a jet that projects downward and pierces the cavitation bubble as it collapses. As seen from 0:54 onward, the bubble’s collapse generates a shock wave that propagates outward from the bubble site. It’s this shock wave that so effectively damages materials and stuns underwater prey. (Video credit: O. Supponen et al.)

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