Physics in Pictures by Topic


Finding the best way to pack objects into a container of a certain shape is harder than you might think.

Polyhedral Peg, Round Hole

Finding the best way to pack objects into a container of a certain shape is harder than you might think.

Learn about plastics and polymers with the newest page from our upcoming all-ages coloring book!

Color Charge: Plastics, Polymers, and Voronoi Diagrams

Learn about plastics and polymers with the newest page from our upcoming all-ages coloring book!


Space Dust Impact

A close look at the dangers of space dust.


American Cells

Epithelial cells grown in the shape of the United States


Quantum Cyberattack

Future quantum cryptography could be foiled by a laser attack



Cobalt-60 a medical radiation source, was recently stolen in Mexico


Skull Galaxies

The Perseus Cluster of galaxies forms a spooky, skull-like x-ray image


Optimal Biological Branching

Veins in leaves and animals may branch this way for optimal transport


Comic-Con 2013 Swag

We handed out tons of physics gear at this year's Comic-Con


Radioactive Uranium Marbles

These marbles glow neon under blacklight, but they're safe


Niobium Caterpillar

A tiny crystal structure mimics a neon caterpillar


Ocean Current Cyclones

Simulation of ocean currents reveals cyclone dynamics


Star Gravity Waves

Vibrating water reveals beautiful shapes

Symmetry Wake thumb

Symmetry Wake

This image reveals the intricate wake structure left behind two cylinders rotating in a fluid.

Turbulence Thumb

Fluid Turbulence

Simulations reveal a striking battle between two forces when lighter fluids flow above heavier ones.

Slime thumb

Slime Mold Evolution

A time lapse image of a developing slime mold network. By watching this growth, physicists hope to better understand the analogous development of transportation networks.

flowing beads

Flowing Beads

Mixing different beads delineates coherent structures, providing insight into how grains mix.

quantum simulation bonding

Quantum Simulation Bonding

Simulations indicate that hydrogen bond density is higher on the surface of titanium dioxide than on tin dioxide, but the hydrogen bonds are found to be stronger on tin dioxide than titanium dioxide.

order through chaos

Order Through Chaos

When researchers tried packing billiard-ball-like spheres in a number of ways, the most chaotic ones were consistently the most symmetrical.

chemical avalanches

Chemical Avalanches

Molecular diffusion and chemical reactions can result in a chemical wave front.

fractal globule

Fractal Globule

Experimental evidence suggests that the human genome may bundle into these unknotted fractal globules.


Lighting Up Wall Street

High frequency trading computers can help make investors millions, but where in the world would be the best place for these computers to be located? Physics could help explain how to make your millions.

human genome folded

Human Genome Folded

Inside cells there is a long code that holds all of an organism’s hereditary information, but how does that long code fit in that tiny space?


Surface Folds

What do brains and bread have in common? Physicists looking for patterns explain.


Less is More for E. Coli

New simulations show that reducing the number of spare DNA genes in the microbe E. coli can actually increase the bacteria’s chances of survival.


Free Floating Plasma Orb or Squid Ghost

Ghost of discharged capacitor found haunting a glass of water! What could be more scary than that? Try a hot ball of electric plasma.


Red Dye Crowned in Milk

This crown is formed by the splash and droplets of a 2 mm drop of red dye impacting on a thin layer of milk.


Centrifugal Instability of an Oscillating Boundary Layer

A cylinder twisting back and forth in water, produces a "centrifugal instability," as shown by fluorescent dye. This fluid pattern will not only help scientists better understand ocean dynamics, but it is also aesthetically beautiful.


MHDPD-Magneto Hydro Dynamic Propulsion Device: The Experiment/ The Attenuation

Red and green dye reveals the turbulent fluid flows from the magneto hydro dynamic propulsion device.


Bouncing Jets

Oil is slick but did you know it can also bounce?


My Cup Runneth Down

It might seem intuitively obvious that a layer of dense liquid resting on a less dense liquid is an unstable situation. What isn't as obvious is the complex way that liquids arranged in this manner and tend to move.


A 'Soapy' Solution

Researchers have been frustrated in their attempts to confirm the long-standing theory that describes how dyes mix in turbulent liquids.



The erratic, swirling fluid motion known as turbulence increases wind resistance, and airplane manufacturers go to great lengths to eliminate rough surfaces that promote it.


Simply Shocking

Sparks branch for the same reason that coral reefs and snowflakes do, according to new computer simulations.


Underwater Desert

Windblown dunes can engulf houses, roads, and airfields, but researchers have had a hard time studying them under controlled conditions.


Flapping Flags

The symbolic beauty of a flag flying high in the wind is simple to understand.



From bonfires to match sticks, flames usually have simple, predictable shapes.

Dripping Faucets

Dripping Faucets

When the faucet drips, most people call the plumber or get out their tools, but some physicists are content to study the phenomenon instead.


Crystal Cannibals

The crystallization process that turns a liquid to a solid is brutally competitive, according to an analysis of experiments performed on the Space Shuttle.


All Mixed Up

If you fill a barrel part-way with red beads, add some green beads, and then roll it around the room a bit, will your beads blend?