Shop Windows to the Universe

Dig into Montana Before History: 11K Years of Hunter-Gatherers in the Rockies and Plains by D. H. MacDonald, Ph.D. See our online store book collection.

Turbulence: All Mixed Up

If you've ever ridden in an airplane, you might have some idea what turbulence is. When an airplane flies through a turbulent place in the atmosphere it will bounce around a bit as the wind outside blows the plane in different directions.

Nothing to worry about - turbulence is natural and it happens all over the universe, from river rapids to ocean waves to Jovian planets to stars to nebulae! You can even see turbulence when you pour milk into a cup of hot tea.

Turbulence is just a fluid moving around crazily so it's all mixed up. It's difficult to predict what a turbulent flow is going to do because of something called the butterfly effect.

Last modified November 16, 2005 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Science, Evolution, and Creationism

How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable....more

Earth's Ocean

Earth's ocean covers more than 70% of our planet's surface. There are five major ocean basins: the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica....more

Stars

The pinpoints of light that you see in the night sky are stars. Your ability to see the stars depends on how bright they are, as well as how close they are to Earth. Stars are giant balls of gas in space...more

What is a Fluid?

When you hear the word Fluid you might think of a liquid like water or juice - something that you can stir up with a spoon. That's right - all liquids are fluids. But did you know that gases like air are...more

The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is a scientist's way of saying that small things can make a big difference. As an example, let's pretend a hurricane has just formed in the the Carribean Sea, southeast of Florida....more

Pressure

When you "blow up" a balloon, you are adding pressure to the inside of the balloon. That makes the rubber in the balloon stretch. The balloon gets bigger. Pressure is an idea scientists use to describe...more

Infrared (IR) Radiation

Text for this level has not been written yet. Please see the "Intermediate" text for this page if you want to learn about this topic. To get to the "Intermediate" text, click on the blue "Intermediate"...more

Magnetism

Magnetism is one of the main forces of nature. Another force of nature is gravity. Magnetism causes magnetized objects to be attracted to each other. An example of the force of magnetism is the magnet...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF