Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings

Date:
February 3, 2014
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
The same physics that gives tornadoes their ferocious stability lies at the heart of new research, and could lead to a better understanding of nuclear dynamics in studying fission, superconductors and the workings of neutron stars.

An example of a vortex ring, also called a toroidal bubble, which dolphins create under water. The concept of vortex rings lies at the heart of new University of Washington physics research.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington

The same physics that gives tornadoes their ferocious stability lies at the heart of new University of Washington research, and could lead to a better understanding of nuclear dynamics in studying fission, superconductors and the workings of neutron stars.

The work seeks to clarify what Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers witnessed when in 2013 they named a mysterious phenomenon -- an unusual long-lived wave traveling much more slowly than expected through a gas of cold atoms. They called this wave a "heavy soliton" and claimed it defied theoretical description.

But in one of the largest supercomputing calculations ever performed, UW physicists Aurel Bulgac and Michael Forbes and co-authors have found this to be a case of mistaken identity: The heavy solitons observed in the earlier experiment are likely vortex rings -- a sort of quantum equivalent of smoke rings.

"The experiment interpretation did not conform with theory expectations," said Bulgac. "We had to figure out what was really happening there. It was not obvious it was one thing or another -- thus it took a bit of police work."

A vortex ring is a doughnut-shaped phenomenon where fluids or gases knot and spin in a closed, usually circular loop. The physics of vortex rings is the same as that which gives stability to tornadoes, volcanic eruptions and mushroom clouds. (Dolphins actually create their own vortex rings in water for entertainment.)

"Using state-of-the-art computing techniques, we demonstrated with our simulation that virtually all aspects of the MIT results can be explained by vortex rings" said Forbes, an UW affiliate professor who in January became an assistant professor of physics at Washington State University.

He said the simulations they used "could revolutionize how we solve certain physics problems in the future," such as studying nuclear reactions without having to perform nuclear tests. As for neutron stars, he said the work also could lead to a better understanding of "glitches," or rapid increases in such a star's pulsation frequency, as this may be due to vortex interactions inside the star.

"We are now at a cusp where our computational capabilities are becoming sufficient to shed light on this longstanding problem. This is one of our current directions of research -- directly applying what we have learned from the vortex rings," Forbes said.

The computing work for the research -- one of the largest direct numerical simulations ever -- was performed on the supercomputer Titan, at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility in Tennessee, the nation's most powerful computer for open science. Work was also performed on the UW's Hyak high-performance computer cluster.

Bulgac and Forbes published their findings in a January issue of Physical Review Letters. Co-authors are Kenneth Roche of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the UW; Gabriel Wlazłowski of the Warsaw University of Technology and the UW; and Michelle Kelley of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Peter Kelley. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aurel Bulgac, Michael McNeil Forbes, Michelle M. Kelley, Kenneth J. Roche, Gabriel Wlazłowski. Quantized Superfluid Vortex Rings in the Unitary Fermi Gas. Physical Review Letters, 2014; 112 (2) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.025301

Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm>.
University of Washington. (2014, February 3). Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm
University of Washington. "Solving a physics mystery: Those 'solitons' are really vortex rings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140203154936.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

'Robotic Eyes' Helps Japan's Bipedal Bot Run Faster

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 16, 2014) Japanese researcher uses an eye-sensor camera to enable a bipedal robot to balance itself, while running on a treadmill. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Lockheed Martin announced plans to develop the first-ever compact nuclear fusion reactor. But some experts said the excitement is a little premature. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Science Proves Why Pizza Is So Delicious

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) The American Chemical Society’s latest video about chemistry in every day life breaks down pizza, and explains exactly why it's so delicious. Gillian Pensavalle (@GillianWithaG) has the video. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins