Sidney Nagel, University of Chicago
Breaking Away, Selective Withdrawal and Islets in the Stream: The Role of Singularities in Fluid Flow
Physics Division Colloquium - 15 September 2006

The exhilarating spray from waves crashing into the shore, the distressing sound of a faucet leaking in the night, and the indispensable role of bubbles dissolving gas into the oceans are but a few examples of the ubiquitous presence and profound importance of drop formation and splashing in our lives. During fission, a fluid forms a neck that becomes vanishingly thin at the point of breakup. This topological transition is accompanied by a dynamic singularity in which physical properties such as pressure diverge. Singularities of this sort often organize the overall dynamical evolution of nonlinear systems.

I will first discuss the role of singularities in the breakup of droplets. I will then present a second experiment, selective withdrawal, in which we study the steady-state shape of a liquid as it is withdrawn by a nozzle through a surrounding fluid. Here, a change in topology may again be accompanied by a singularity. Applications of this geometry that rely on singular dynamical behavior, are relevant for the coating of biological particles that may be of particular use in medical transplantation technologies.

ANL Physics Division Colloquium Schedule