IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Week in Geek: Physics by the swimming pool

More fun with fluid dynamics, this time with vortices and a dinner plate.

Dianna Cowern (aka Physics Girl) is a physicist and an amazingly creative science ambassador. After studying physics and astrophysics as an undergraduate, she went to work in industry, and then found her calling in science outreach. I met Dianna this past June at the World Science Festival where she was announced as the winner of the Flame Challenge in the visual category. The Flame Challenge was begun by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in 2011 with a challenge to scientists of all kinds to answer the question "What is a flame?" in a way that an 11-year-old kid could understand. Next it was "What is time?" and then in Cowern's year it was "What is color?". One great thing about the Flame Challenge is that 11-year-olds actually choose the winners.

Cowern's newest video is on vortices, and how you can spend your day poolside and claim you're hard at work studying physics the entire time. OK, maybe I embellished that last part. Anyway, in the video she uses a dinner plate to create a pair of vortices that cross the length of the pool without dissipating or diverging. What is this magic? Turns out, it's fluid dynamics. Watch!

So next time you're hanging by the pool, start throwing around words like: angular momentum, friction, and vortex lines, because science is everywhere.

Here's some geek that has not been pre-judged by 11-year-olds:

Keep on geeking! @Summer_Ash