Two Vortex Rings Colliding in SLOW MOTION – Smarter Every Day 195

This took 4 years to recreate. 12 Hour edit here:
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I’ve been chasing this problem for over 4 years. The 12 hour edit chronicles the entire process after David Linderman and myself started working on it in earnest.

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Song “Rings in Rings in Rings” by Gordon McGladdery of A Shell In The Pit
Listen to it on Spotify: (It helps

All A Shell in the Pit music available at:


A Vortex Ring is also called a Toroidal Vortex

Original Research Paper by T. T. Lim & T. B. Nickels (Published in Nature 1992)

Governing Equations of Fluid Mechanics

Numerical Analysis of this phenomena

Interesting Research Papers on Vortex Ring Reconnection

Other Videos created by Dr. T T Lim

Flow Visualization, A Book by Dr. T T Lim

Why we typically don’t talk about angular momentum in fluids.

We used a computer controlled cylinder to pump fluid behind a rubber membrane to fire toroidal vortices out of the vortex cannons.

We fixed one of the vortex cannon in a stationary position, and used a multi-axis microscope stage to align a second cannon to it… which sounds incredibly easy, until you realize that

DYE density was an experiment all on its own.
If the density of the dye mix was light than water, the vortex would go up.
If the dye was more dense than water the vortex would fall.

We had to overcome SO MANY VARIABLES to overcome and we basically spent about 4 hours figuring each variable.
Water/dye temperature differential
Water turbulence
Water turbidity (cloudiness or haziness of a fluid)
How to reset the aquarium
Cannon Spacing
Cannon Nozzle
Cannon Shape
Dye homogeneity in the vortex itself
The piston displacement volume
The piston stroke speed
Rubber diaphragm tension, would make one side fire faster than the other.
Water or air to drive diaphram?
Firing speed (too slow and they drift, too fast and turbulence tears apart secondaries)
We did a complete redesign of the cannon 3 different times.
The Dye loading method was changed several times
At times we tried to maintain negative pressure on the cannon chamber… we also tried to put shutters on the front of the muzzle. Ultimately I decided it was ok to live with dye dripping out of the front.

We had to premix the dyes and eventually we got there.

It got to the point where we didn’t even really know what success looked like and always thought we were there.
(If I did this right these should be working Amazon affiliate links to purchase the stuff I like to use. When people purchase from these links it will support Smarter Every Day.)

❓Mystery Item (just for fun):
?Camera I use :
Favorite Lens:
Lav Mic:
My Tripod:
My Multi-tool:
?How I get footage off my phone:
Travel Tripod:
Favorite Bidet:
?Goggle Up! :

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