Archive for the 'Science' Category
“Head-on Collision of Colored Vortex Rings”. A humble title for an utterly amazing video, via the Fluid Mechanics Group at the National University of Singapore. And there’s more in the title card!
“Note the formation of small rings from the cross-linking of the wavy vortex filaments of the larger rings”.
Indeed. The video brings to memory that long before strings became fashionable in modern physics, an early model of atoms proposed by William Thomson, better known as Lord Kelvin, suggested they were vortex rings in the ether.
As Michael Fowler wonders, Kelvin was probably inspired in his revolutionary idea by a demonstration akin to this:
That’s a simulation by Paul Nylander, but vortex rings can do that trick, being remarkably stable. Nylander Paul Nathan also offers this visualization that helps to see what’s actually happening (click on the image for the video):
Unfortunately, vortexes are not that stable in many forms other than rings, and thus can’t really account for a good model of atoms. More than a good analogy (“atoms are strings!”, “atoms are smoke rings!”, “atoms are little solar systems!”), what we really need in science, and particularly in physics, are good mathematical tools, and fluid dynamics didn’t offer much advance in predicting the behavior of particles.
Kelvin’s inspired idea did lead to much advance in fluid dynamics physics and even mathematics, particularly the knot theory from topology.
Interestingly, occultists at the end of 19th century also liked Kelvin’s idea. Oh, pseudoscience, always trailing after real science all the while claiming it’s beyond this allegedly obsolete establishment. Too bad there’s evidence those occultists also liked to copy data from real science for their alleged mystical visions.
But let’s not be too harsh, at least with good Lord Kelvin, the one who doubted the airplane was possible. The idea of vortex atoms was indeed revolutionary, it does find a distant correlation with modern string theories, and it may not have been such a bad idea after all.
Such is science, and it’s possible string theories may come even closer to Kelvin’s original proposal.
Sure thing is, vortex rings are utterly cool.
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“A friend of mine was amazed after watching Avatar. He couldn’t stop talking about the floating mountains. Then I said to him: ‘Man, your planet has huge mountains of water. Water! They float above your head every day and when they turn into rain, they contribute to the cycle of the most important liquid to your existence’. Most people go around without realizing the complexity, wonder and graciousness that a cloud is.” – Ibrahim César, 1001 Gatos de Schrödinger
Indeed, as Cecil Adams writes, “a good sized cumulonimbus cloud, or thunderhead, [has] a mass of roughly four billion kilograms per cloud, or the equivalent of not one but 10,000 747s.”
Just wanted to share that with you all. “Science is the poetry of reality”.
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Quite literally: After a trip of 10 minutes inside this Mandelbrot fractal (be sure to check the HD version on Vimeo), the original image you saw would be “billions and billions” of times larger than the whole Universe. As the author, hd-fractals, explains:
“The final magnification is e.214. Want some perspective? A magnification of e.12 would increase the size of a particle to the same as the earths orbit! e.21 would make a particle look the same size as the milky way and e.42 would be equal to the universe. This zoom smashes all of them all away. If you were "actually" travelling into the fractal your speed would be faster than the speed of light.”
You can compare it to some actual zooms into hair, concrete, metal et al.
Remember that these infinite and exquisite details emerge from the repeated iteration of the simple expression zn+1 = zn2 + c. It’s the Mandelbrot set.
And there’s more! After the jump.
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