Wingtip vortices are a result of the finite length of a wing. Airplanes generate lift by having low-pressure air travelling over the top of the wing and higher pressure air along the bottom. If the wing were infinite, the two flows would remain separate. Instead, the high-pressure air from under the wing sneaks around the wingtip to reach the lower pressure region. This creates the vorticity that trails behind the aircraft. I was first introduced to the concept of wingtip vortices in my junior year during introductory fluid dynamics. As I recall, the concept was utterly bizarre and so difficult to wrap our heads around that everyone, including the TA, had trouble figuring out which way the vortices were supposed to spin. A few good photos and videos would have helped, I’m sure. (Photo credits: U.S. Coast Guard, S. Morris, Nat. Geo/BBC2)
The steam hammer phenomenon—and the closely related water hammer one—is a violent behavior that occurs in two-phase flows. Nick Moore has a fantastic step-by-step explanation of the physics, accompanied by high-speed footage, in the video above. Pressure and temperature are driving forces in the effect, beginning with the high-temperature steam that first draws the water up into the bottle. As the steam condenses into the cooler water, the steam’s pressure drops, drawing in more water. Eventually it drops low enough that the incoming water drops below the vapor pressure. This triggers some very sudden thermodynamic changes. The drop in pressure vaporizes incoming water, but the subsequent cloud cools rapidly, which causes it to condense but also drops the pressure further. Water pours in violently, cavitating near the mouth of the bottle because the acceleration there drops the local pressure below the vapor pressure again. The end result is a flow that’s part-water, part-vapor and full of rapid changes in pressure and phase. As you might imagine, the forces generated can destroy whatever container the fluids are in. Be sure to check out Nick’s bonus high-speed footage to appreciate every stage of the phenomenon. (Video credit and submission: N. Moore)
Each year during the Christmas season in Budapest, Hungary the city trams are each decorated with over 30,000 bright, twinkling LED lights.
"The tradition began in 2009 and has been a hit with passengers ever since. The lit up trams have become a beacon for photo ops and creative photographers have found interesting ways to capture them."
Long exposure photos taken of the brilliantly decorated trams in motion make it appear as though they’re much more than urban transportation. They look like awesome time machines heading off to who knows where or when. All aboard!
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Glass Fracturing At 5 Million Frames Per Second
Wave motion in a bay or near a beach can cause significant sediment transport. Individual granular particles, like sand, can be lifted by the passage of a single wave, but, over time, complex patterns form as the granular bottom surface shifts due to the waves. This video shows time-lapse footage of the ripples that form and move in submerged sand during many hours of wave motion. A slight imperfection in the surface causes a network of sand ripples to grow and spread. Once formed, those ripples shift and reform depending on changes in the wave conditions. (Video credit: T. Parron et al.)