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Newton’s third law says that forces come in equal and opposite pairs. This means that when air exerts lift on an airplane, the airplane also exerts a downward force on the air. This is clear in the image above, which shows a an A380 prototype launched through a wall of smoke. When the model passes, air is pushed downward. The finite size of the wings also generates dramatic wingtip vortices. The high pressure air on the underside of the wings tries to slip around the wingtip to the upper surface, where the local pressure is low. This generates the spiraling vortices, which can be a significant hazard to other nearby aircraft. They are also detrimental to the airplane’s lift because they reduce the downwash of air. Most commercial aircraft today mitigate these effects using winglets which weaken the vortices’ effects. (Image credit: Nat. Geo./BBC2)


Veritasium’s new video has an awesome demonstration featuring acoustics, standing waves, and combustion. It’s a two-dimensional take on the classic Rubens’ tube concept in which flammable gas is introduced into a chamber with a series of holes drilled across the top. Igniting the gas produces an array of flames, which is not especially interesting in itself, until a sound is added. When a note is played in the tube, the gas inside vibrates and, with the right geometry and frequency, can resonate, forming standing waves. The motion of the gas and the shape of the acoustic waves is visible in the flames. Extended into two-dimensions, this creates some very cool effects. (Video credit: Veritasium; via Ryan A.; submitted by jshoer)

Someone play dubstep on this. Now.

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