Phenomena

Spinning Paint

Fluid dynamical behaviors are often the result of competing forces. Here paint flung from a spinning rod illustrates the effects of adhesion, surface tension, and centrifugal force. In general, surface tension tries to hold a fluid together, and adhesion allows it to stay attached to a surface. Centrifugal force, on the other hand, tends to push the fluid outward. As the spinning rod accelerates, centrifugal force wins over adhesion and the paint spirals outward. For awhile, surface tension manages to hold the paint together, stretching it into spiraling ligaments of fluid. But when centrifugal force overpowers surface tension as well, the ligaments of paint snap into smaller droplets, still flying outward. Check out the full video for more great slow motion shots, and be sure to look at photographer Fabian Oefner’s “Black Hole“ series, which inspired the video. (Image credit: BBC Earth Unplugged, source video)

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