When swimming in open waters, it pays to keep your ducks (or your goslings!) in a row. A recent study examined the waves generated behind adult water fowl and found that babies following directly behind them benefit from their wake. In the right spot behind its mother, a duckling sees 158% less wave-drag than it would when swimming solo. That’s such a large reduction that the duckling actually gets pulled along! And the advantage doesn’t just help one duckling; a properly-placed duckling passes the benefit on to its siblings as well. So any duckling that stays in line has a much easier time keeping up, but those who slip out of the ideal spot will have a much tougher time. (Image credit: D. Spohr; research credit: Z. Yuan et al.; via Science News; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)
YouTube channel Viral Video Lab has two videos showing 3D-printed gliders flying on wings formed from soap films. It’s a neat idea for a toy aircraft, though obviously not practical. But are the videos real? The channel features plenty of obviously fake concepts, like perpetual motion machines, and explicitly states in its About page that “videos shown on the channel may contain CGI effects.” They’re clearly not strangers to stretching the truth.
Sadly, I don’t have the means to properly test the concept, but it at least seems plausible (although there are some flight sequences in the videos themselves that I don’t think are totally real). There are bubble solutions out there capable of making quite giant, long-lasting bubbles, though they are more complicated than the simple soap and water solution suggested in the video. And having essentially flat wings doesn’t preclude gliding, as long as you have a positive angle of attack. I’d be interested to see if someone with a 3D-printer can recreate the effect. Let me know if you give it a try! (Video credit: Viral Video Lab; via Gizmodo)
Shifting bubbles and psychedelic colors abound in this abstract video from artist Rus Khasanov. He provides no specifics as to the materials he uses for this video, but my guess is they likely include oil, soap, and polarizing filters. It’s a fun and funky video! See more of Khasanov’s work on his website and Instagram. (Image and video credit: R. Khasanov)
Our skies can sometimes presage the weather to come. In thunderstorms, a cirrus plume above an anvil cloud will often appear (visible by satellite) about half an hour before severe conditions are reported on the ground. A new study delves into the origins of these plumes and finds that they result from an internal hydraulic jump in the storm that acts a bit like an artificial mountain, driving air — and the moisture it contains — higher in the stratosphere than normal. Once the jump is established, the authors found it could drive 7 tonnes per second of water vapor into the stratosphere! (Image credit: jplenio; research credit: M. O’Neill et al.; via Science)