A laser beam obliterates a drop of ink. A winner of the Milton Van Dyke award.
Fluid mechanics is the science of breaking waves, explosions, bubbles, ripples, clouds, and currents. So when editors of the Journal of Fluid Mechanics declared, in 1967, that their discipline was “photogenic,” their vanity was justified.More cool fluid dynamics gifs here.
That sense of self-love still pervades the field. So much so, that the centerpiece of the annual American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting is a competition to see who made the most beautiful science that year. At the 2014 meeting, held here November 23-25, the contest featured nearly 100 video submissions.
The topics explored ranged from everyday fascinations—dogs lapping water, sloshing beer, and roiling clouds—to the esoteric, like a strangely zen-like movie of a laser beam obliterating an inkspot....
The competition, which began in 1983, was inspired by a book that came out the year before, An Album of Fluid Motion by Milton Van Dyke. A Stanford professor, Van Dyke understood how important visualizations were to the field, but saw that there were no books showing all the basic ways that fluids move. He’d already set up his own publishing company, and was able to sell the book for $10, making it available to all students. Winners of the competition are given copies of the now out-of-print book.
The video contest has two prize categories, each with three equal winners. The more prestigious of the two is named after Van Dyke, and has a cash gift of $200. The second is simply called the Gallery of Fluid Motion award.