COOL IMAGES: Sudsy Physics

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Science  04 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5382, pp. 1411
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5382.1411a

Soapy water swirls at various speeds in this false-color image of turbulence in a soap film—water sandwiched between layers of surfactant molecules. Ordinary though soap films may seem, physicists look to them as a model for two-dimensional turbulent flows in the oceans and on the surfaces of some planets. This image, posted at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) site, is from an experiment in which Peter Vorobieff of Los Alamos National Lab and others used a digital camera to quantify how thickness and velocity are related in flow throughout an entire soap film, not just at certain points, as they report in the 17 August Physical Review Letters.

AIP's Physics News Graphics page holds dozens of images and drawings from news features over the past 2 years on everything from purported cosmic snowballs to sonoluminescence. Many are nuts-and-bolts diagrams, but others, like these soapy twists, are quite striking.

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