Hurricanes and tornadoes may seem huge, but they're equivalent to thin flows of fluid at
the base of the atmosphere. So, physicists are finding they can mimic these phenomena with
swarms of electrons confined by magnetic and electrical fields.
In experiments akin to dropping tornadoes into hurricanes, physicists at the University of
California, Berkeley created compact vortices of electrons within more diffuse swirls. The tornado-
like vortices induce the hurricane-like hosts to envelop spots of calm just outside their
borders, Dan Durkin and Joel Fajans report in the Nov. 6 Physical Review Letters. The rim then
"brings a little piece of the calm world inside," Durkin says.