Research

Never Break the Chain

Water poured from a non-circular hole takes on a chain-like shape.

Pour water out of a bottle, and you’ll see a jet with a shape that resembles chain links. Sometimes known as a “liquid chain,” this phenomenon occurs when water pours through a non-circular hole. It’s quite a complex behavior, as shown in this recent study of the nonlinear effect. Even so, the authors found that the amplitude and wavelength of the chain’s sections are tied directly to the shape of the opening. Current models of the effect don’t account for the viscosity of the liquid, though, so future experiments will have to explore how fluids other than water behave. (Image and research credit: D. Jordan et al.; via APS Physics; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

A comparison of oscillating jet shapes and metal chains.
A comparison of an oscillating jet’s shape and metal chains. Each view is rotated 45 degrees from the one before.
2 comments
  1. James

    Great now i have fleetwood mac in my head…. isn’t it strange that it has a changing cross section but not of specifically flow?

    1. Nicole Sharp

      I may or may not have also had Fleetwood Mac in my head when I was writing.

      If you did measurements of the flow inside that changing cross-section, you’ll see different areas with different speeds. But you’d probably have to do some micro-PIV to do that.

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