Turbulent convection, the movement of fluid when heated from below, plays a crucial role in various natural phenomena. A recent experiment, inspired by the Earth’s core, has unveiled a new aspect of this type of turbulence.
A team of physicists has discovered a new role for turbulent convection, shedding light on fluid flows from the Earth’s liquid core to boiling water. The research, conducted in a cylindrical container filled with water, revealed that turbulent convection-powered flows can move in two directions and sometimes switch directions due to turbulence.
The study, led by Professor Jun Zhang, focused on Rayleigh–Bénard convection, a type of convection driven by temperature differences. The researchers heated water in a cylindrical container from the bottom, creating convective flows. A suspended solid within the container interacted with these turbulent flows, allowing the team to study how turbulent flows interact with solid structures.
The results of the experiment were surprising. The researchers observed a smooth rotation of the flows and the free solid. The turbulent convection-powered flows, along with the solid, could move in two directions, with the co-rotational speed increasing with the intensity of the convection. Interestingly, their rotation could sometimes switch directions, caused by the turbulence.
Implications of the Findings
The findings confirm that turbulence can be tamed by interacting with solids. The research also suggests that thermal convection might play more important roles inside our planet Earth.
This groundbreaking discovery opens up new avenues for research into turbulent convection and its role in various natural phenomena. Future studies could focus on further exploring the interaction between turbulent flows and solid structures and its implications for our understanding of Earth’s inner workings.