Phenomena

Dyeing the River

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Every year Chicago dyes part of its river green to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This timelapse video gives a great view of the 2016 dyeing. If you watch closely, you’ll see that what’s being put in the river isn’t originally green. It’s actually an orange powder being distributed through flour sifters by the men on the boat. The exact formula is secret, but the dye is considered environmentally safe. To mix up the dye, a chase boat follows the dye boat, using its motor and wake structure to help add some turbulence to the river. It takes several passes to get the water uniformly green, but it requires a remarkably small amount of dye to do so, only about a paint can’s worth. So enjoy a little fluid dynamics today with your festivities! (Or, if you prefer to celebrate a different sort of fluid dynamics today, allow me to offer you the physics of Guinness.) (Video credit: Chris B Photo)

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