Physics in Pictures by Topic

Compression Waves & Sound

The bizarre brilliance of bismuth

Metallurgical Magic

The bizarre brilliance of bismuth

Schlieren flow visualization reveals the structure of a sonic boom

Seeing a Sonic Boom

Schlieren flow visualization reveals the structure of a sonic boom


Fluid Flags

Tiny filament "flags" leave beautiful fluid wakes


Metallic Flow

Solids can flow like fluids, given the right circumstances


Levitating in a Fluid

Using magnets, scientists re-create a space environment


The Eye of the Sahara

Easily visible from space, this huge structure still puzzles scientists


Cracked Windshield Physics

The number of cracks in glass reveal the strength of projectile impacts


Ultrasound Gas Bubbles

Ultrasound energizes gas bubbles, causing intense pressure and heat


Star Gravity Waves

Vibrating water reveals beautiful shapes

Turbulence Thumb

Fluid Turbulence

Simulations reveal a striking battle between two forces when lighter fluids flow above heavier ones.

big circle

Patterns in the Sand

When a Chladni plate vibrates patterns emerge in the sand. It’s not magic, or the hand of an invisible artist, but the vibrations themselves that cause the lines and patterns to emerge


Cloud Waves

When people think of waves they often look to the oceans, but waves can also be found high in the sky. In this picture Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean made waves in the clouds.


Laser-Plasma Creates Electro-Optic Shocks

High power laser pulses create shock-waves and bubbles in plasma.


Centrifugal Instability of an Oscillating Boundary Layer

A cylinder twisting back and forth in water, produces a "centrifugal instability," as shown by fluorescent dye. This fluid pattern will not only help scientists better understand ocean dynamics, but it is also aesthetically beautiful.


Cornstarch Dimples

A vibrating cornstarch solution appears to come alive and grow fingers. A dimple in the fluid created by a burst of air expands into a deep hole.


Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

Puny tremors may be the real movers and shakers of the seismic world.


Catch a Quasiperiodic Wave

Quasicrystals are unusual metallic alloys whose atoms are arranged in orderly patterns that are not quite crystalline.