Unmixing a Mixed Fluid

Paul O'Flaherty

While you might never want to get the Red Bull out of your Vodka, and I’d give you a serious ripping for even suggesting it, but occasionally you may want to separate some non-alcoholic liquids that got all mixed up.

John DeMoss and Kevin Cahill of the University of New Mexico developed the apparatus shown in this video, which is made up of a hollow cylinder with a rotating tube inside it. In this experiment, the space between the cylinders is filled with corn syrup. Drops of food dye are then added and the inner cylinder is rotated slowly, mixing the layers in an orderly fashion.

But the real fun happens when the cylinder’s rotation is reversed. This effectively returns the fluid to its initial state, along with the three drops of different coloured dye.


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