Pop! The Science of Bubbles

In this BBC presentation, Physicist Dr Helen Czerski takes us on an amazing journey into the science of bubbles. Bubbles may seem to be just fun toys, but they are also powerful tools that push back the boundaries of science. From the way animals behave to the way drinks taste, Dr Czerski shows how bubbles affect our world in all sorts of unexpected ways. Whether it’s the future of ship design or innovative new forms of medical treatment, bubbles play a vital role.

It’s a long video, but well worth the time. Pop your self some popcorn. Grab a bottle of water. Settle back to be enthralled by —— bubbles

Who Knew: Penguins

One of the most impressive things about penguins – and puffins – is the way they rocket out of the water to land on the ice. Not only do they stick the landing, they come out of the water with enough momentum to gain a foothold.

In this video, Helen Czerski – physicist and oceanographer based at the Institute for Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton – explains the role that fluid dynamic principles play in this amazing penguin ability.

Buoyancy: Swim Bladders

Internal_organs_of_a_fishWe’ve all heard that a shark must swim continuously or sink. Do you know why? It’s because sharks do not have a swim bladder. “This gas-filled sac provides buoyancy and helps to keep the fish afloat by keeping it in a neutrally buoyant state.” When in this state, the fish is neither rising nor sinking in the water.

Many bony fish – those having skeletons of bone rather than cartilage like our shark friends – have a swim bladder. It is located in the dorsal portion of the fish as noted in the anatomical sketch included in this post. The swim bladder can expand or contract by filling with or emptying itself of gas through the use of the gas gland. (In some less developed types of fish, the fish fills or empties the swim bladder with gulps of air.) The gas never passes through the wall of the swim bladder. You can think of the swim bladder  as a sort of internal helium balloon.

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An Ocean of Air

In 1644, Evangelista Toricelli wrote, “We live submerged at the bottom of an ocean of air.” We don’t feel the force of the pressure of this fluid any more than aquatic creatures feel the force of the water on all sides. Why? Because there is a uniformity of pressure in both cases; gravity exerts pressure on all sides.

Imagine for a moment that everything on the Earth and above its surface could exist under the water, or vice versa, without any change in appearance or properties. If we visualize  horizontal bands atop one another, it would break the habitable area into observable layers. Grass, trees, plants, insects, ground-dwelling animals would all be in the same layer as the plants, crabs, bottom-feeders, and sand dwelling creatures beneath the surface of the ocean. There would be fish swimming in the layer above our heads with the birds. Airplanes would soar further above, in a layer with the whales. Dolphins would escape the surface of the ocean, accompanied by rockets, at the topmost layer above Earth. It would be a jumbled and magnificent scene.  Wait! There’s more!

Fluid Dynamics!

Welcome to Fluids in Motion. I know. An entire blog about fluids in motion and the application of the principles of fluid dynamics? If that sounds like a topic that will be used up in five posts or less, there’s a lot you have to learn!

Fluid dynamics is the study of fluids – gases, liquids, and the air – in motion. It’s been a field of interest for centuries. It influences the design of ocean, air, and space craft to this day.

It’s a fascinating area of science, filled with interesting characters. You’ll discover applications in nature – as well as those made by humans.

I hope you’ll stop by often to read my posts. For more information on any topic, check out my book.

Gina

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