Beautiful fluid mechanics

I added cream to my coffee this morning and watched, mesmerized, as the white streak slowly triangulated and formed individual spirals, each of which then continued triangulating, until at last a giant, unified spiral sprawled across the surface of the liquid.

It reminded me of a session I attended at the engineering educators conference two weeks ago, in which student art from an engineering course on fluid mechanics was presented. 

You know Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night?  Perfect example of fluid mechanics as art. 

Take a look at this gallery of student work done over the past several years in a mechanical engineering course called “Flow Visualization,” taught by Prof. Jean Hertzberg at the University of Colorado-Boulder. 

Although the term “fluid mechanics” once sounded like technical drudgery to me, now even the words themselves look like poetry.

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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