Entraining Bubbles

If you stand on a bridge and watch the current flow past pylons below, you’ll see disturbances marking the wakes. Dragging a rod – or an oar – at a high enough speed through the water creates something similar: a wavy cavity in the fluid surface that surfs along behind the rod. The faster you pull the rod, the harder you’ll have to work, until that wake becomes so turbulent that it begins entraining air bubbles, like the tiny ones seen above. Once entrainment starts, the drag coefficient drops somewhat, presumably due to changes in the pressure distribution around the rod. The characteristics of air entrainment change with object size as well. Larger rods can entrain air through the cavity and not just in the wake. (Image and research credit: V. Ageorges et al.)

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