Fluid Knots

I have enough trouble making tying knots with my shoelaces, so this is doubly awesome: researchers at the University of Chicago, Illinois, have created a 3D knot in a fluid.

To investigate, Dustin Kleckner and William Irvine of the University of Chicago, Illinois 3D-printed strips of plastic shaped into a trefoil knot and a Hopf link. Crucially, the strips had a cross section shaped like a wing, or hydrofoil (see picture).

Next, the researchers dragged the knots through water filled with microscopic bubbles. Just as a wing passing through air creates a trailing vortex, the acceleration of the hydrofoils created a knot-shaped vortex that sucked in the bubbles. The result was a knot-shaped flow of moving bubbles – the first fluid knot created in a lab – which the team imaged with lasers.

Jacob Aron of NewScientists has the video clip of the fluid knot: Link


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