In one of those bizarre disciplinary unifications, knot theory and fluid dynamics have been wed…
Earlier this year, scientists from the University of Chicago gathered…long-sought data with the help of a 3-D printer, lasers, and a high-speed camera…explaining the physics behind these beautiful, twisted fluid flows.
To observe the knotted loops, the research team first used a 3-D printer to create special hydrofoils tied in knots. Next, they accelerated the hydrofoils through a fluid to imprint the knotted structure onto the fluid, generating the vortex knots that they sought. Lasers and a high-speed camera tracked the knots as they twisted and morphed, giving the researchers a 3-D timelapse of the evolving fluid flow.