Walking in the Wake

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Flow visualization is an important tool in fluid dynamics, and scientists have many ways to capture and visualize flow information. But our methods are not the only — or even the best — ways to express a flow. Here, engineers teamed up with architects and artists to explore the flow behind an oscillating cylinder. When free to move forward-and-backward the cylinder’s wake takes on three distinctively forms. The team explored many ways to display the wakes — drawings, 3D-printed sculptures, and more — before ultimately building an art installation that lets visitors walk through the wake to experience it. I love the creativity of these interdisciplinary efforts. To see a similar, yet very different, take on the wake of a cylinder, check out this interpretative dance. (Image and video credit: P. Boersma et al.)

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