Research NewsPhysics

From a Turbulent Maelstrom, Order

Science  24 Apr 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5363, pp. 519
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5363.519

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Four years ago, researchers discovered a bizarre phenomenon whereby vortices in turbulent gases of electrons arrange themselves in neat, long-lasting "crystals." Now a team of physicists has offered an explanation: Each large vortex in these electron fluids acts as a Mixmaster, stirring the background flow and increasing its entropy. That opens the way for the vortices to gel into predictable, orderly, crystalline patterns.