Left: da Vinci’s sketch of eddies in a turbulent pool. Right: schematic of the energy spectrum corresponding to the flow inside the marked region in da Vinci’s sketch. Credit: OIST

Water issuing from an ordinary faucet tells a complex tale of its journey through a pipe. At high velocities, the faucet’s gushing stream is turbulent: chaotic, disorderly—like the crash of ocean waves.

Compared to orderly laminar flows, like the faucet’s steady stream at low velocities, scientists know little about turbulence. Even less is known about how laminar flows become turbulent. A mix of orderly and disorderly flows, transitional flows occur when fluids move at intermediate velocities.
Now, Dr. Rory Cerbus, Dr. Chien-chia Liu, Dr. Gustavo Gioia, and Dr. Pinaki Chakraborty, researchers in the Fluid Mechanics Unit and the Continuum Physics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and…

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