Simplified Schlieren Set-up

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Schlieren photography offers a glimpse into flows that are usually invisible to the human eye. With a relatively simple set-up–a light source, collimating mirror(s), and a razor blade–it becomes possible to see differences in density. The technique lets one visualize temperature-driven flows like the buoyant convection from a flame or other heat source, and it can also be used to visualize shock waves and sound. The video above has several neat schlieren demos, including some non-air examples using hydrogen (lighter than air) and sulfur hexafluoride (denser than air), both of which are transparent to the naked eye.  (Video credit: Harvard University, via Jennifer Ouellette)

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