Turbulence is everywhere — it rattles our planes and makes tiny whirlpools in our bathtubs — but it is one of the least understood phenomena in classical physics.
Turbulence occurs when an ordered fluid flow breaks into small vortices, which interact with each other and break into even smaller vortices, which interact with each other and so-on, becoming the chaotic maelstrom of disorder that makes white water rafting so much fun.
But the mechanics of that descent into chaos have puzzled scientists for centuries.
When they don’t understand something, physicists have a go-to solution: smash it together. Want to understand the fundamental building blocks of the universe? Smash particles together. Want to unravel the underlying mechanics of
turbulence ? Smash vortices together.
Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) may have identified a fundamental mechanism by which turbulence develops by smashing vortex rings head-on into each other, recording the results with ultra-high-resolution cameras, and reconstructing the collision dynamics using a 3-D visualization program. Coupled with the analysis of numerical simulations performed by collaborators at the University of Houston and ENS de Lyon, the researchers have unprecedented insight into how fluidic systems transform from order to disorder.
The research is described in Science Advances .
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings