In the widening gyre, the center doesn’t hold
Jan F. Totz
A type of spiraling wave has been busted for disorderly conduct.
Spiral waves are waves that ripple outward in a swirl. Now scientists from Germany and the United States have created a new type of spiral wave in the lab. The unusual whorl has a jumbled, disordered center rather than an orderly swirl, making it the first “spiral wave chimera,” the researchers report online December 4 in Nature Physics.
Waves, which exhibit a variety of shapes, are common in nature. For example, they can be found in cells that undergo cyclical patterns, such as heart cells rhythmically contracting to produce heartbeats or nerve cells firing in the brain. In a normal heart, electrical signals propagate from one end to another, triggering waves of contractions in heart cells. But sometimes the wave can spiral out of control, creating swirls that can lead to a racing