Turbulent Ink

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Turbulence is found throughout our lives, but rarely is it as startlingly beautiful as in this Slow Mo Guys video. Here they show high-speed videos of ink being injected into water. The resulting plumes are turbulent from the very start, with innumerable folds and eddies billowing outward as the plume expands. The large difference in length scales–from the millimeter-sized curls to the meter-sized length of the plume–is one of the classic characteristics of turbulence and part of what makes turbulent flows so difficult to model computationally. Energy in these flows is generated at the large scales, but it’s dissipated at the very smallest scales through viscosity. This means that to properly model a turbulent flow, you have to capture the largest scales, the smallest scales, and everything in between in order to represent this energy cascade from large to small. It’s a problem that engineers, mathematicians, meteorologists, and physicists have struggled with for more than a century. But, here, at least, we can all just sit back and enjoy the beauty. (Video credit: The Slow Mo Guys)

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