The “Waves” installation by artist Daniel Palacios appears deceptively simple, just a rope mounted between two motors. But once the motors start spinning, it is anything but. The installation shifts in response to those around it, creating varying numbers of steady, standing waves or even wildly chaotic ones that whistle through the air. It’s a neat visualization of one of the most commonly-measured quantities in physics: the changes in a wave with time. (Video and image credit: D. Palacios; via Flow Vis)
Manmade infrastructure often interferes with natural waterways, which is one reason civil engineers turn to culverts, those pipes and concrete tunnels you often see beneath roadways. As simple as they may seem, there’s a lot of engineering that has to go into these artificial waterways to keep flows from backing up and flooding roads. In this video from Practical Engineering, you’ll learn about some of those factors and see through demos just how they impact the flow. (Image and video credit: Practical Engineering)
Some single-celled organisms, like dinoflagellates, light up when disturbed. This bioluminescence is considered a defense mechanism, triggered by threats to the organism. Now researchers are quantifying just what it takes to light up a single dinoflagellate.
Dinoflagellates respond both to stress caused by the fluid flow around them and to mechanical deformation — in other words, getting poked. Both methods involve bending and stretching the dinoflagellate’s cell wall, which stretches calcium-ion channels connected to bioluminescence. The researchers found that the intensity of the light produced depended both on the amount and speed of cell wall deformation.
The model built from their observations should help scientists better understand what forces cause a specific response. That means dinoflagellates could be used as a non-invasive means of understanding fluid flow around swimmers like dolphins or sea lions! (Image and research credit: M. Jalaal et al.; via APS Physics)
This dramatic image shows a waterspout formed off the coast of Florida. Waterspouts come in two varieties: tornadic and fair-weather. Both types can be dangerous to anyone caught up in them, though the tornadic variety, which are usually associated with severe thunderstorms, is generally worse. Tornadic waterspouts can form top-down from a thunderstorm or when a tornado moves from land to water. Fair-weather waterspouts, on the other hand, typically form from the bottom, in a similar fashion to dust devils and other fair-weather vortices. (Image credit: J. Mole; via APOD)