How swimming bacteria spin fluid

In today’s study, Dunkel and his colleagues investigate how bacteria can make flow patterns that look turbulent –  chaotic and full of vortices – even though bacteria are tiny and slow.  The bacteria push the fluid around as they swim and create vortices, spinning regions in the fluid. The 5 ?m long bacteria create vortices with diameters of 80 ?m by swimming at the speed of 30 ?m/s!

Fluids That Flow Themselves

When we think about fluid flow, we generally think of motion in response to some external force: rivers run downhill because of gravity, while soda moves through a straw because of the pressure difference created by sucking on one end. Recently, however, scientists have become interested in a class of fluids that have the capacity to move all by themselves — the so-called “active fluids.” In this paper, Kun-Ta Wu and his co-workers explore how such a material can turn its stored chemical energy into useful work: cargo transport.