Research

Soap Film Wakes

Soap films can create remarkable flow visualizations when illuminated with monochromatic (single color) light. Each of the photos above shows a flow moving from left to right with a small object near the left creating an obstruction. In the top two images, the objects are cylinders; in the lower one it’s a flat plate tilted at 45 degrees. All of the objects shed vortices as the flow moves past. These vortices alternate in direction – the first spins clockwise, the next counter-clockwise, then clockwise again and so on. This pattern is known as a von Karman vortex street and can even show up in the atmosphere! (Image credit: D. Araya et al.)

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