2012 Press Releases

APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting
San Diego, California
November 18-20, 2012

Meeting Highlights

Insights into Flight, the Knuckleball of Soccer, Fog, Penguin Dynamics and More
The 65th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) included more than 2,000 compelling presentations from across the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine. Reporters were invited to attend the conference free of charge.

2012 Press Releases

All press releases are in PDF (Format - PDF) format. The most recent releases are listed first.
Media Webcast
November 19, 2012 - Panelists Discuss Latest Discoveries in Fluid Dynamics
Sound Bullets in Water
November 19, 2012 - Sound waves are commonly used in applications ranging from ultrasound imaging to hyperthermia therapy, in which high temperatures are induced, for example, in tumors to destroy them. In 2010, researchers at Caltech led by Chiara Daraio, a professor of aeronautics and applied physics, developed a nonlinear acoustic lens that can focus high-amplitude pressure pulses into compact "sound bullets." In that initial work, the scientists demonstrated how sound bullets form in solids. Now, they have done themselves one better, creating a device that can form and control those bullets in water.
Owls’ Ability to Fly in Acoustic Stealth Provides Clues to Mitigating Conventional Air
November 19, 2012 - Owls have the uncanny ability to fly silently, relying on specialized plumage to reduce noise so they can hunt in acoustic stealth. Researchers from the University of Cambridge, England, are studying the owl?s wing structure to better understand how it mitigates noise so they can apply that information to the design of conventional aircraft.
Mosquitos Fail at Flight in Heavy Fog
November 19, 2012 - Mosquitos have the remarkable ability to fly in clear skies as well as in rain, shrugging off impacts from raindrops more than 50 times their body mass. But just like modern aircraft, mosquitos also are grounded when the fog thickens.
Invisibility Cloaking to Shield Floating Objects from Waves
November 19, 2012 - A new approach to invisibility cloaking may one day be used at sea to shield floating objects - such as oil rigs and ships - from rough waves. Unlike most other cloaking techniques that rely on transformation optics, this one is based on the influence of the ocean floor?s topography on the various "layers" of ocean water.
New Model Reveals How Huddling Penguins Share Heat Fairly
November 16, 2012 - Penguins that face the bitter cold and icy winds of Antarctica often huddle together in large groups for warmth during storms. Mathematicians at the University of California, Merced created a model of penguin huddles that assumes each penguin aims solely to minimize its own heat loss. Surprisingly, the model reveals that such self-centered behavior results in an equitable sharing of heat.
Visualizing Floating Cereal Patterns to Understand Nanotechnology Processes
November 16, 2012 - Small floating objects change the dynamics of the surface they are on. This is an effect every serious student of breakfast has seen as rafts of floating cereal o's arrange and rearrange themselves into patterns on the milk. Now scientists have suggested that this process may offer insight into nanoscale engineering processes.
Probing the Mystery of the Venus Fly Trap's Botanical Bite
November 16, 2012 - Plants lack muscles, yet in only a tenth of a second, the meat-eating Venus fly trap hydrodynamically snaps its leaves shut to trap an insect meal. This astonishingly rapid display of botanical movement has long fascinated biologists. Commercially, understanding the mechanism of the Venus fly trap's leaf snapping may one day help improve products such as release-on-command coatings and adhesives, electronic circuits, optical lenses, and drug delivery.
Mixing Processes Could Increase the Impact of Biofuel Spills on Aquatic Environments
November 16, 2012 - Ethanol, a component of biofuel made from plants such as corn, is blended with gas in many parts of the country, but has significantly different fluid properties than pure gasoline. A group of researchers from the University of Michigan wondered how ethanol-based fuels would spread in the event of a large aquatic spill. They found that ethanol-based liquids mix actively with water, very different from how pure gasoline interacts with water and potentially more dangerous to aquatic life.
Creating a Coating of Water-repellant Microscopic Particles to Keep Ice off Airplanes
November 16, 2012 - To help planes fly safely through cold, wet, and icy conditions, a team of Japanese scientists has developed a new super water-repellent surface that can prevent ice from forming in these harsh atmospheric conditions. Unlike current inflight anti-icing techniques, the researchers envision applying this new anti-icing method to an entire aircraft like a coat of paint.
Behind the Success of the Soccer ‘Knuckleball’
November 16, 2012 - What makes soccer star Christiano Ronaldo's 'knuckleball' shot so unpredictable and difficult to stop?

Preliminary Meeting Highlights

Released November 1, 2012
Insights into Flight, the Knuckleball of Soccer, Fog, Penguin Dynamics and More

Sunday, November 18

The Silent Flight of the Owl: Many species of owl rely on specialized plumage to reduce their noise levels and enable hunting in acoustic stealth. One particular feather arrangement is believed to mitigate the type of air turbulence that is the predominant source of noise.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177007

Acoustic Lens to Boost Power: Acoustic waves are routinely used in ultrasonic imaging or hyperthermia surgery. To give these waves a boost, researchers have constructed an acoustic lens that focuses the waves' energy into so-called "sound bullets."
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177560

Surface Deformation and the 'Cheerios Effect': Small objects floating on the surface of a liquid tend to attract each other through capillary interactions, in a phenomenon dubbed the "Cheerios Effect." A series of experiments studied this phenomenon to gain new insights into self-assembly.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177627

How the Venus Flytrap Actively Snaps: Although they lack muscles, plants have evolved a remarkable range of mechanisms to create rapid motion. The carnivorous Venus Flytrap, whose leaves snap together in a fraction of second to capture insects, has long been an object of study. Researchers provide new insights into their snapping mechanism.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177924

Super-hydrophobic Coating for Aircraft Anti-Icing: Deicing an aircraft is necessary for safe flight operation. This can be done mechanically or with the use of deicing fluids, which need to be reapplied before every flight. A third option, applying a super-hydrophobic (water repellent) coating as anti-icing for an aircraft, is presented.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177678

Monday, November 19

Measuring and Analyzing a Bird's Flight: To tackle the long-standing problem of precisely measuring shape and profiling of free-flying birds, researchers developed a technique to determine the shape of naturally textured surfaces.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178264

The Soccer Knuckleball: A soccer ball kicked with a very low spin can exhibit a zigzag trajectory. These trajectories, called knuckleballs, are being studied to determine their cause.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/177995

Mosquito Flight Failure in Heavy Fog: Mosquitoes thrive during rainfall and high humidity, and can successfully fly through rainfall. But, just like modern aircraft, too much fog and a mosquito is grounded.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178572

Suction Cups Aid in Tagging Marine Mammals: Securely and humanely tagging marine animals is important for research into their habits and habitats. New research indicates that suction cups can provide sufficient force to safely adhere tags to dolphins.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178233

Penguin Huddle: To protect themselves from the elements, penguins huddle together, shifting their positions so the most exposed and least exposed eventually change location. A new model shows just how effective this strategy is at keeping penguins warm.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178234

Tuesday, November 20

Mixing Water and Biofuels: Gasoline is now commonly combined with ethanol in an effort to reduce dependence on oil. But while alcohol blends easily with water, petroleum does not. New research explores how this combined liquid would behave during a spill.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178765

Dust Settling in Protoplanetary Disks: New clues to planet formation: Planets start out as microscopic grains within protoplanetary disks of gas and dust in orbit around newly formed protostars. Researchers investigate what conditions trigger gravitational instability, causing dust and gas to clump together to form planetesimals, the building blocks of planets.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/179282

Using Simple Flows to Tie Knots in Flexible Fibers: Flexible fibers, such as DNA, have sometimes been found to contain knots. While such fibers are not -- strictly speaking -- closed knots, they exhibit similar characteristics. The formation of these "open knots" and the effects they have on material properties will be discussed.
Gray arrow  http://meeting.aps.org/Meeting/DFD12/Event/178859

Additional press releases highlighting newsworthy presentations at the meeting will be posted shortly before and during the meeting. All press releases are posted in PDF format.