Monday, January 23, 2012

New Scientist TV - Math in a Minute: Impossible vortex stirs up ice cream

if four vortices were let loose in a cup of melted ice cream and chocolate sauce, what would it look like? In this simulation, mathematical artist, Jos Leys illustrates the result by imagining that the two are ideal fluids, meaning that they have no viscosity and slide past each other with no resistance.

The vortices quickly stir things up, creating swirls reminiscent of chocolate and vanilla ice cream sundaes. As the simulation continues, the vortices continue to rotate and even grow, while leaving large regions relatively unmixed.

In the real world, vortices eventually disappear as their energy dissipates due to viscosity. But as this demo shows, they could continue indefinitely in ideal fluids. Although there are no existing fluids with these properties, simulations of the scenario are useful tools for simplifying complex fluid flow problems.

For more on vortices, check out an ultra-detailed model of vortex flow. If you missed previous episodes in this series, visit our archive to see, for example, how to create a spaghetti monster.

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