As waters part, polygons appear | Science News

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As waters part, polygons appear

12:40pm, May 30, 2006

Imagine a hurricane with an eye in the shape of a propeller amid the swirling clouds. Physicists have observed something almost as strange in whirlpools that they made by swirling liquids in a novel way. Within the whirlpools, they've seen three-blade-propeller shapes as well as regular polygons, including squares and hexagons.

The behavior of liquids in rotating containers has long fascinated physicists. For instance, in a famous late-1600s study, Isaac Newton pondered why the surface of water in a rotating bucket becomes concave.

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