Buzzing Straws

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Many woodwind instruments owe their sound to the vibration caused when air moves past parts of them. As Nick Moore demonstrates in this video, you can create a simple version of this effect with a slit drinking straw. The buzzing the straw produces when air passes through is a sort of aeroelasticity – it’s a combination of aerodynamic and structural forces that drive the behavior. Low pressure created by the fast-moving flow tends to draw the straw together, but once flow is stopped, the elasticity of the straw makes it rebound open, allowing air to flow again. Even more elaborate vibrations are possible when the straw is elastic.  (Video credit: N. Moore)

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