The Synergy Project: Weaving water

The ocean surface is filled with eddies that can spin clockwise or counterclockwise, and that have currents that turn over on themselves, carrying water up and down in spirals. Physical oceanographer, Larry Pratt, conducts research that shows how physical properties such as heat, nutrients, or oil are carried down beneath the ocean surface. Larry uses chaos theory to investigate fluid paths in eddies. Chaos theory suggests that some paths are orderly and wind around doughnut shaped surfaces, while other paths lie on more complex surfaces that resemble twisted hula hoops. In other parts of the flow, the water traces irregular and unpredictable paths. Sometimes a torus will break apart and the fluid pathways in the vicinity will become chaotic. Water in this part of the eddy is strongly mixed.
Larry and artist, Anastasia Azure, collaborated to capture the essential motion of eddies through time-lapse photography of moving lights. Fluid paths are represented by light streaks in the photos and colored strands in the sculpture.

Provided by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Runtime: 1:40

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