Reader Questions

Reader Question: Inside a Vortex

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Reader embersofkymillo asks:

Hey FYFD, could you do some analysis/explanations behind the physics of this vortex stuff? I love when you do spots on Slow Mo Guys vids and figured I’d share a recent one w you 

I enjoy doing that, too! So let’s talk a little about vortices. What Dan’s tea stirrer is doing is creating a low-pressure core for a vortex. We can see just how strong that low pressure region is by the way it sucks the air-water interface down toward the spinning arms. Eventually the interface and stirrer meet, and what was once a single, smooth(ish) surface gets torn into a myriad of bubbles. (As an aside, those bubbles get loud.) 

I also like the sequence of sugar cube drops because they make for some very cool splashes. Notice how the orientation of the cube’s edges as it hits determines the shape of the inital splash curtain. The asymmetry borne out of that impact actually follows through all the way through the seal of the cavity behind the cube. It reminds me of this oldie-but-goodie video on drops hitting different shapes. (Video and image credit: The Slow Mo Guys; submitted by embersofkymillo)

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