Swirling fluids around us


This project examines fluid dynamics, one of the oldest areas in the study of Physics. The inspiration is based on the research of Leif Ristroph

Our goal is to demonstrate the fluid dynamics that surrounds us and the ways in which fluid dynamics affect our environment. 

In this website, you will immerse yourself into a fluid dynamic environment. They transform themselves into a swirling fluid, control the swirl with movements, and explore fun interactive content. 

WHAT is Fluid Dynamics?

Can you believe that we are surrounded by fluids? It's true! And the fluid around us is moving all the time.

A fluid is any substance, such as liquids and gases, that does not have a specific shape and transforms based on its container.

Fluid dynamics is the study of moving fluids from place to place. The two types of study are hydrodynamics (study of water flow) and aerodynamics (study of the air flow).


HOW can we know that fluid is moving/transforming?

According to Archimedes’ Principle, when an object is immersed in a fluid, the amount of the fluid displaced is equal to the weight of the object.

The fluid does not disappear when moving from place to place. 

Bernoulli’s Principle states that fluid that is moving at a higher speed contains lower pressure than the fluid that is moving at a lower speed.

Are WE creating Fluid Dynamics?

We always create fluid dynamics when we are moving. Sometimes the fluid dynamics we create when we walk or move affect others as well.

For example, fish that swim in orderly groups spend less energy and move faster than when swimming alone. Notable differences are apparent among these arrangements. The diamond-shaped pattern yielded the greatest speeds and largest energy savings.


Over a long period of time, animals have developed unique ways to adapt to fluid dynamics through evolution.

Press & Drag your mouse

HOW can we apply Fluid Dynamics in real life?

Scientists use fluid dynamics to innovate a ton of technology we use to study weather patterns, ocean currents, the evolution of stars, plate tectonics, and even the blood circulation within ourselves.

Fluid dynamic may be used to understand how ships move through water and planes fly through the sky. We experience fluid dynamics every day. Each time we move, we produce beautiful invisible swirls in the air.

ART and Fluid Dynamics

How can we depict the complexity of invisible fluid dynamics in art and culture? One of the most famous paintings accomplished this challenge in stride.


“The Starry Night” (1889), Vincent Van Gogh, captured one of the most mysterious workings of science. He shed light on turbulent fluids in fluid dynamics, which is a difficult concept to grasp. 


Scientists have studied the luminance in Van Gogh’s painting in detail. Luminance is the intensity of  light in the colors of the canvas. Impressionists represented light in a unique fashion by capturing motion. 


Researchers digitized the painting and measured how brightness varies between any two pixels. They found that the curves measured behave similarly to fluid turbulence. 


During Van Gogh’s intense suffering in a mental asylum, he demonstrated movement with star light that twinkles and melts. With the augmented reality application “Inside Starry Night,” users are placed inside the iconic energetic painting. 


Hold your phone to paint and make the invisible visible.

About Leif Ristroph

Leif Ristroph is an Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Courant Institute at New York University. He received his PhD in the study of the aerodynamics and stabilization of insect flights. In Lattices of Hydrodynamically Interacting Flapping Swimmers, Ristroph answered a 100-year-question about the formation of birds and fish. 

Ristroph’s research explores how animals have evolved to adapt to fluid dynamics, which may allow for new possibilities in the optimization of energy-saving technology. 

Leif’s mathematical subject touches on every facet of our lives. Computer programs utilize mathematical equations of fluid dynamics to model and predict the actions of moving fluids.

About Us

This project is a part of the Playful Communication of Serious Research course at ITP NYU.

 ITP is a two-year graduate program that explores the imaginative use of communications technologies.






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