2C50.15 - Vortex Rings

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Vortex Rings
Turbulence and Vortex
Area of Study:
Heat & Fluids
5 gallon bucket with strap and diaphragm, Coffee Can with Latex Diaphragm, Disposable Grill Lighter, Cigarettes of Wood Splints (For Smoke Production).

Use the sling on the bucket to hold it at a comfortable level.  Give the membrane a firm tap.  The smoke ring will be nicely visible.  Slower traveling rings will allow you to see more vortex structure.  You can also use this with or without the smoke to blow out candles from a distance of about 20 feet.

The Zero Blaster can be used to make medium sized smoke rings.  An adjustment can be made that allows for slow or fast moving rings.

Tap the diaphragm in a room of quiet (non-moving) air and observe the smoke rings produced.  Note that the square hole template will also produce round smoke rings.  The elliptical template will produce smoke rings that have observable quadrupole motion which simulates gravitational waves moving through space.

Dimensions for the quadrupolar motion templates are:

22.5 cm major axis X 16.7 cm minor axis


22 cm major axis X 13.1 cm minor axis - this one gives a more visible quadrupolar motion with the steel garbage can.

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Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.