Sunday, 12 August 2007

Science Sunday II: The Kaye Effect -or- How To Have More Fun With Shampoo Than You Knew Was Possible

This week's science topic comes from an area I know next to nothing about: fluid dynamics. The Kaye Effect is a strange property of organic liquids that exhibit a kind of pseudo-plasticity called shear thinning. I don't fully understand what that means, but it is a property of fluids like shampoo, non-drip paint, nail polish, ketchup, and even blood.

All shear-thinning fluids can exhibit the Kaye Effect - a beautiful and bizarre quirk of fluid dynamics where when the fluid is poured thinly from a height, it will collect in a mound until suddenly a fine streamer of fluid will eject upwards. Usually this occurs too quickly to be noticed, but when filmed at high speeds, the effect is stunning. Just watch the video; it does a much more eloquent and effective job of explaining it.

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