JUL 16, 2020 11:26 AM PDT

Turbulence: A Treat for Both Eyes and Minds

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

What do the air inside your lung, the tap water in pipes, the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and the hurricane over the Atlantic ocean have in common? They are all nature's display of turbulent flows.

The term turbulence describes a type of fluid motion that's full of unforeseeable changes in pressure and velocity. It is in direct contrast to another motion known as the laminar flow, in which fluid units follow parallel paths and move in smooth layers.

The pattern of turbulent flow is unpredictable and highly dependent on its initial conditions. It has a tendency to swirl or create eddies, exemplified by naturally occurring vortices behind rocks in rapids. These swirlings give the turbulence the mesmerizing look.

Compared to laminar flow, which only happens in small scale and under restricted conditions, turbulent flow is more omnipresent in our world of dynamics, from the level of the small molecules to the objects of astronomical sizes. 

If one can appreciate laminar flow for its simplistic beauty, turbulent flow, which represents the chaotic nature of our world, is genuinely more fascinating. Understanding and harnessing the mechanisms behind this natural phenomenon has been helping us to advance many of our causes, such as improving the aerodynamics of a golf ball, designing better jet engines, and predicting weather patterns.

Source: Veritasium via Youtube

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
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