Sheep as a Fluid

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Not all fluids are, well, fluid. Traffic, flocks of birds, ants, and even sheep can behave like fluids. This video shows an aerial perspective on sheep being herded, and despite the four-legged nature of these particles, they have a lot of fluid-like characteristics. You can watch ripples and waves travel through the herd and see how disturbances propagate. The herd is actually a brilliant example of compressible flow; notice how the sheep slow down and bunch up as they near the gate then speed up and spread out once they pass the constriction. This is exactly how supersonic fluids behave! (Video credit: T. Whittaker; submitted by Simon H and John B)

If you’re in the DC area, I’ll be speaking at the Annals of Improbable Research Show at the AAAS meeting Saturday evening. Our session is open to the public, but it’s likely to be crowded, so you may want to arrive early!

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