VORTICITY, a beautiful fluid mechanics phenomena, but which can have devastating effects on human settlements, when of very large scale and very powerful.

The complete vortex has a “donut” shape. Fluid/wind sweeps in along a flat bottom (ground level, or sea level), increasingly curving as it converges to the central “funnel.” There, it spirals up and as it rises it also spirals outward, and the curvature of the “path lines” diminishes at further radial distances. “Out there” those pathlines (water flow, winds) cycle back down to the “bottom” plane, completing a circuit, and then flow in again.

Versions of vortices are everywhere: bathtub drains, river eddies, hurricanes, water spouts, airplane wingtip vorticies, Great Red Spot on Jupiter.

Herman Helmholtz (19th century physicist) published his conservation law of vorticity (Helmholtz Vortex Theorem), and the differential equation form of vorticity involves “the curl” (a differential vector cross product of the velocity field). Vorticity features in Boundary Layer Theory (for the thin viscous layers adhering to material bodies moving through fluid bodies, like airplane wings, and further explicated by Von Karman, in the early 20th century, about the trailing Von Karman Vortex Street behind airplane wings, a consequence of fluid viscosity).

The best (and still and forever likely to remain incomplete) theory/description of fluid turbulence is that it is a nested set of vorticies of increasing scale, from the nearly molecular up to larger and larger eddies until a macro-level of fluid mass circulation — like a tornado.

If the fluid is electrified, and consequently magnetized, like the atmospheres of the Sun and stars, Earth’s ionosphere and the Earth molten core, and so much of Space (nebulas, planetary rings, space plasmas: novas and supernovas and rarefied space dust), then electric and magnetic vortices can form: Earth’s magnetic field is one example of the outer “path lines” of Earth’s ‘magnetic tornado’ at its core.

Vorticity in its many forms is quite fascinating, but of course violent vortical weather like hurricanes and tornadoes can be so harmful to living creatures: plants and animals, including humans. The American Great Plains are a natural “Tornado Alley” because of the expanse of flatness allowing the geometry of the tornado vortex free reign to expand without restraint. Also, they form there because warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico is propelled northward (by its contained heat energy = “high pressure”) and over the Plains it collides with strong colder winds sweeping down eastward from the Rocky Mountains (the Front Range), and that collision of low hot moist northward wind with high dry cold eastward winds creates a counterclockwise circulatory motion of atmospheric masses, with moisture rising (in the central “funnel”), chilling, raining out, freezing into ice crystals and hail, and the friction of that creating electrical charge separation (“static” electricity) which sparks over as lightning.

The point about Helmholtz’s Vortex Theorem is that the continuous threading of the “path lines” into the vortex “spool” makes of the whole an integral energetic structure, and that integrity is maintained — conserved — despite forces imposed on the whole of it: which is why hurricanes and tornadoes move, intact, across the face of the Earth because of the imposition of pressure gradients from “high pressure” regions to “low pressure” regions.

Another aspect of Helmholtz’s theorem is that, like a spinning ice skater, the slow gradual circulation out at vast distance (ice skater with arms extended, spinning slowly) represents an angular moment that is maintained close to the center by a very rapid rate of spin (ice skater with arms pulled in, spinning quickly).

So it takes quite a bit to dissipate the vortex, in fluids it is the result of the build-up of friction (fluid viscosity) gradually breaking up vortical motion into randomized turbulence (in the absence of strong external — collisional wind — forces causing a macro “stirring” into counterclockwise circulation — in the Northern Hemisphere). Stirring cream in your coffee is a nice way to observe vortical motion and vortical mixing.

Back in the 1980s I had a lot of fun working out a theory of electromagnetic vortices (all based on the work of famous physicists, like Debye, Alfvén, Cowling, and their MHD and plasma physics predecessors), which I found were produced by nuclear explosions in magnetized spaces, and in very high current and high power electrical transmission lines as used for fusion power and particle beam research.

If you have a poetic inclination toward reading about vortices, look into the book ‘Sensitive Chaos’ by Theodor Schwenk, an anthroposophist — influenced by Rudolf Steiner — about the many intriguing patterns in fluid flows of all kinds (as in our blood streams, the swirled forms of some of our blood vessel junctions and valves).

Nature is endlessly fascinating and instructive.



Why Does the Physical Universe Exist?


Why Does the Physical Universe Exist?

Why do we even imagine we can ask such a question and find an answer?

The total energy of the universe exploded out of an infinitesimal pinpoint of reality erupting into the void of nonexistence, to cool and diffuse as the wake behind the expanding bow wave of the Event Horizon, precipitating into the swelling space-time of intergalactic, interstellar and interplanetary emptiness, and granulating into matter-energy that expresses gravitational potential by its mass distribution; that itself slowly contracts into accumulative material bodies, and ultimately into light-void centers of matter extinction that in their turn evaporate their confined energy by quantum flickering between existence and nonexistence, until those singularities of space-time pop back into nonexistence once voided of any reality.

Will that cycling between existence and nonexistence also be enacted by the Event Horizon? Will it just diffuse away into the void of nonexistence?, or will it rebound into a new universal contraction?, or will it oscillate in some as yet unknown Limit Cycle alternating existences and nonexistences? Could we guess that such a coiling and uncoiling was inherent in the Totality, as reflected in the eddies of reality shed behind the Event Horizon and which we see as the cycles of birth, life, death and rebirth?, down to the coiling and uncoiling of the very molecules that convey the persistent genetic patterns of which we each are momentary expressions and disposable links of Life’s transmission?

Why do we imagine there could be a Supreme Consciousness creating and controlling this dynamic? Why would such a Supreme Metaphysical Constant, beyond any limitations of space, time, materiality, personality, emotion, ego, boredom and need, bother with the triviality of creating a toy universe of existence to occupy and confine its unlimited awareness? Is this not simply a yearning on our part for magical extensions of our brief flashes of confused awareness of eternity: for a heaven, or even a hell? Isn’t our existential philosophizing just another vortex coiling and uncoiling in the human psyche tumbling us distractedly along our brief stretches of time?

For us the answers may all lie in our acceptance of tumbling along with grace and kindness, and without fearful clinging to the questioning. In doing that we may experience the constancy of the eternal during a few moments within our brief spans of conscious awareness. Of course we will never know, but miraculously we do have the choice to live as though that were true.


Electric Vortex in MHD Flow

(Spring 1995)

Electric Vortex in MHD Flow

A PDF file of this report is available from the link above; and the report is displayed below.


Closely related:

Proton Beam Driven Electron MHD