A Golden Swirl

As much as I love exploring flashy examples of fluid dynamics, like shock waves around aircraft or what happens when non-Newtonain fluids get crushed by a hydraulic press, my favorite moments are the simple, everyday ones. Getting to see fluid dynamics in my daily life, whether I’m standing in the kitchen cooking or trying to wash my hands, is what excites me the most. The photo above is an example of this kind of simple, satisfying fluid experience. The image shows wax being melted in a crockpot. As it melts and its optical characteristics change, the wax reveals the mixing pattern inside the container. There’s nothing earth-shattering or scientifically important about something like this. But it’s still a moment where the otherwise unseen and unnoticed becomes visible and beautiful. It’s the fluid dynamical equivalent of stopping to smell the roses. When did you last pause to appreciate the flows around you? (Image credit: A. Unger et al.)

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