SPINNING DROPLETS

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In the 19th century, Joseph-Antoine-Ferdinand Plateau described the shape of a spinning droplet, under the competing effects of angular momentum (which tends to drive the droplet to bulge outwards at the equator), and surface tension (which resists this force, driving the droplet back to a spherical shape), and detailed the evolution from a perfect sphere to a two-lobed dumb-bell. Much later, his shape predictions would impact not only understanding of tumbling droplets, but also nuclear fission and the predicted higher dimensional shapes of black holes.

In the 21st century, I used a diamagnetic levitator and a beaker of candle wax to show, experimentally, that Plateau's shapes were correct, and then compared these shapes to those of tektites; splash-droplets of spinning, molten rock ejected from asteroid impacts. These colourful wax-shapes were from then on referred to as 'Artificial Tektites': 

Artificial tektites: an experimental technique for capturing the shapes of spinning drops, Scientific Reports, 2015.

The University of Nottingham released a press article about this work, titled Levitation recreates nature's dumb-bells, which was then covered by Phys.org and Physics World.

 Left: Real splash-form tektite bought at the American Geophysical Union conference, San Francisco, 2014. Right: One of my "artificial tektites" made from levitating wax.

Left: Real splash-form tektite bought at the American Geophysical Union conference, San Francisco, 2014. Right: One of my "artificial tektites" made from levitating wax.