Excitation of Spirals and Chiral Symmetry Breaking in Rayleigh-Bénard Convection

Science  22 Sep 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5231, pp. 1704-1707
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5231.1704


Spiral-defect populations in low-Prandtl number Rayleigh-Bénard convection with slow rotation about a vertical axis were measured in carbon dioxide at high pressure. The results indicate that spirals act like "thermally excited" defects and that the winding direction of a spiral is analogous to a magnetic spin. Rotation about a vertical axis, the spiral analog of the magnetic field, breaks the zero-rotation chiral symmetry between clockwise and counterclockwise spiral defects. Many properties of spiral-defect statistics are well described by an effective statistical-mechanical model.

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