McDonald’s new science straw, a head-tripping optical illusion, and other amazing images of the week

Newsworthy eye candy

Exploding Droplets

Fancy turning physics concepts into a piece of artwork? Some French researchers found a way to produce thousands of liquid droplets in a short time. They dropped a mixture of blue-colored water and alcohol onto a layer of oil. This created a blue puddle. Because alcohol evaporates quickly, the water remained and the mixture’s surface tension increased. This caused the droplets to form beads. Because alcohol escapes faster at the edge of the puddle than in the center, the greater surface tension at the edge pulled the flow of liquid outward, making the droplets look like they were exploding. See it for yourself here.

Through The Looking Glass

Look through the glass above, you’ll find the black and white bars bizarrely switch direction. The explanation is actually not complicated. First, water is denser than air. When light hits the surface of the water, it causes a redirection of the light wave, or a phenomenon called refraction. But refraction alone couldn’t solve the puzzle. The complete reversal of the bar’s direction comes from the converging effect of the curved glass. As light converges at a certain point between your eye and the glass, it continues to travel towards your eye, but it has crossed and the image has reversed. Read the more in depth explanation here.
What’s in a glass of water?

Life Beyond Earth?

NASA made an astronomically big announcement this week. Their telescopes discovered seven exoplanets orbiting the TRAPPIST-1 dwarf star that’s just 39 light-years away from us. As three of the planets fit in the sweet distance away from the star—neither too hot nor too cold—there is a chance they could harbor life. But we shouldn’t get too excited, yet. So far scientists only know how big and heavy each of the exoplanets are. Hopefully, we’ll learn more about their climates when the James Webb Space Telescope launches in late 2018.

Mickey D’s New Science Straw

Popular Science’s Billy Cadden and Sarah Fecht did some serious testing of the McDonald’s fancy new J-shaped STRAW (Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal). The design is supposed to allow milkshake drinkers to taste two flavors at once from a layered milkshake. But Billy and Sarah found it didn’t really work according to plan. Find out what happened and what a fluid dynamicist has to say about the J-shaped straw here.