It’s only fitting to take a moment to look back at 2014 as we step into the New Year. It was a big year in many respects - we hit 1000 posts and broke 200,000 followers; I started producing FYFD videos on our YouTube channel; and, on a personal note, I finished up my PhD. But since we’re all about the science around here, I will give you, without further ado, the top 10 FYFD posts of 2014:

1. Bioluminescent crustaceans use light for defense
2. What happens when you step on lava
3. Flapping flight deconstructed
4. Wingtip vortices demonstrated
5. Saturn’s auroras
6. Raindrops’ impact on sand
7. Water spheres in microgravity
8. The surreal undulatus asperatus cloud
9. Inside a plunging breaker
10. A simply DIY Marangoni effect demo

I can’t help but notice that 9 out of the 10 posts feature animated GIFs. Oh, Tumblr, you rascals. Happy New Year! (Image credits: BBC; A. Rivest; E. Lutz; Nat. Geo/BBC2; ESA/Hubble; R. Zhao et al.; D. Petit; A. Schueth; B. Kueny and J. Florence; Flow Visualization at UC Boulder)


Last night I walked across the stage as a student for the last time, receiving my PhD in aerospace engineering and getting hooded by my advisor in a tradition with roots back to medieval scholars. Even more so than the defense, it marked an official end to my PhD. None of that is really fluid dynamical, but I wanted to use the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who read and support FYFD. This blog began on a whim while I was a graduate student waiting for an opportunity to do the experiments I needed. I never could have predicted at the time the impact it would have on my life. FYFD became a part of my daily life, and thanks to you, readers, it became a source of inspiration and motivation for me as I pursued my studies. I have learned so much more about fluid dynamics in writing FYFD and answering your questions than I would ever have on my own. I have had opportunities to travel, to communicate and even meet with people from all corners of the globe who share some of my enthusiasm for the subject. It has been a wonderful experience so far, and I hope for many more ahead. Thank you all for being a part of it! (Photo credit: J. Mai)


New FYFD video! In which Dianna Cowern (Physics Girl) joins me to explore boundary layer transition and how a couple of small bits of roughness could be a huge problem for the Space Shuttle during re-entry. A lot of people have asked me what I did for my PhD research, and the truth is, I’ve never really discussed my own work here on FYFD. This video is probably the closest I’ve come. The story I tell about STS-114 is one that appears in the first chapter of my dissertation, and it did, in many respects, motivate my work exploring roughness effects on transition in Mach 6 boundary layers. I hope you enjoy my video, and don’t forget to check out Dianna’s video, too! (Video credit: N. Sharp/FYFD)


For the next week, FYFD is going to be exploring the physics of walking on water. Birds, bugs, and balls can all do it - we’ll look at how! To top off the week, I’ll be holding my first-ever FYFD live webcast on Saturday, March 5th at 1 pm EST (10 am PST; 6 pm GMT). My guests are Professor Tadd Truscott and PhD student Randy Hurd of the Splash Lab! Tadd, Randy, and their Splash Lab compatriots have been responsible for some of my favorite FYFD topics over the past five years and I’m super excited to have them on the webcast. 

Normally, my webcasts will be reserved for FYFD’s $5+ Patreon patrons, but since this is a special occasion, we’re going to make the Hangout on Air link live to any FYFD patron on Patreon. Not a patron yet? What are you waiting for? Go sign up! You don’t want to miss this. 

As a bonus, here’s Randy demonstrating his research:

A video posted by Splash Lab (@thesplashlab) on Feb 10, 2016 at 1:47pm PST

(Original grebe image: W. Watson/USFWS; all other photos: The Splash Lab)


This is FYFD’s 1500th post! Can you believe it? Fifteen hundred posts is a heck of a lot of fluid dynamics. I’ve covered everything from the teeny tiniest scales to the astronomically huge, from events that happen in the blink of an eye to ones that require decades of patience. Today I encourage you to check out the archives whether by scrolling the visual archive, digging in by keyword, or by clicking here for something random.

Whether you’ve been here for 1 post or for all 1500, thank you! And special thanks, of course, to my Patreon patrons. If you’re a fan and want to help FYFD keep flowing and growing, please consider becoming a patron, too. (There’s cool perks available.) Here’s to the next 1500 posts!

P.S. Big thanks also to Randy Ewoldt and his lab for their fantastic viscoelastic FYFD timelapse. Isn’t it awesome?! (Image credits: N. Sharp - top image, Ewoldt Research Group - bottom image)


Next week marks FYFD’s 4th birthday! It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long, or that the blog and I have come so far. I set out with the intention of explaining fluid dynamics to a broad audience because it’s a subject we all experience daily and yet one that few learn formally. (I also, as you may have guessed from the blog’s name, didn’t take things too seriously.) Many things have surprised me these past four years, but one of my favorites is how much I’ve learned. In researching and writing FYFD, I am constantly learning new and fascinating physics. I love it every time something new stuns me with its beauty, its cleverness, or its jaw-dropping, mind-blowing awesomeness. In celebration of that feeling, next week’s posts will revisit some of my favorite subjects, especially those that did and do amaze me. In the meantime, try not to let the ice cream melt. Unless you’re into that. (Video credit: I. Yang; submitted by Stuart B.)

Off on a vacation

Hey guys,

Tomorrow (October 14), I’m heading off on vacation for a couple weeks out of range of the Internet. I’ve queued up entries for while I’m gone and my friend Claire from Brilliant Botany (check it out!) has kindly agreed to watch over the Tumblr queue and make sure it posts like it’s supposed to. So you should hopefully experience no interruptions to regular posts. But I won’t be responding to asks, submissions, emails, etc. until after I return at the end of the month.

Have a lovely October, readers! I’m off in search of penguins and iguanas.


Today is FYFD’s 1000th post! It’s been a wild ride over the last three-and-a-half years and I cannot thank you all enough for coming along. I’m continually amazed by FYFD’s popularity among readers of all ages and backgrounds, and it’s truly a joy to see excitement for fluid dynamics spreading.

The keen-eyed among you may have noticed a subtle change to the main page: I successfully defended my PhD Friday! I’m still working on wrapping my head around the idea of not being a student any more.

Anyway, I just wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate. I encourage you to take a look back at the archives, which are full of amazing science and physics, or read one of the themed series FYFD has featured. And, if you’ve enjoyed the blog, please don’t hesitate to spread the word! Thank you all again for your support. :-)

Welcome, Wired readers! I’m stunned, honored, and very grateful to see FYFD featured on this year’s 101 Signals science recommendations, especially given how much I admire many of the others on that list! The premise of FYFD is simple: every weekday I post a new photo or video and a brief explanation of the fluid dynamics and physics therein. Topics include everything from chip-sized microfluidics to astrophysics, from super-slow-moving flows to hypersonic planetary re-entry, from the aerodynamics of cycling to the bizarre behavior of cyrogenic superfluids. You can find a little bit of just about anything here. Jump into the visual archive and take a look around. I’m also always happy to answer reader questions on Tumblr or by email. Happy reading! - Nicole