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Vortex Rings Of Light

Toroidal (ring-shaped) vortices are not uncommon in nature and science. Indeed, aquarium visitors are often amazed at how dolphins master creating and playing with bubble rings, which are air-filled vortex rings propagating in water. Smokers can similarly create smoke rings. The scientific investigation of vortex rings dates back to 1867, when Lord Kelvin proposed the vortex atom model.

Optics researcher Qiwen Zhan and colleagues started from a vortex tube, a hurricanelike structure they already knew how to create using laser light. The team used optics techniques to bend the tube into a circular shape, creating a vortex ring.

(Via ScienceNews)


(Vortex Rings of Light)
The ring’s surface is illustrated in transparent purple
and a hollow core is shown in orange. Rainbow arrows
show the rotation of the vortex, and white arrows indicate
a type of angular momentum of the light.

Toroidal vortices, also known as vortex rings, are whirling, closed-loop disturbances that form a characteristic ring shape in liquids and gases and propagate in a direction that is perpendicular to the plane of the ring. They are well-studied structures and commonly found in various fluid and gas flow scenarios in nature, for example in the human heart, underwater air bubbles and volcanic eruptions.

Here we report the experimental observation of a photonic toroidal vortex as a new solution to Maxwell’s equations, generated by the use of conformal mapping. The resulting light field has a helical phase that twists around a closed loop, leading to an azimuthal local orbital angular momentum density.

The preparation of such an intriguing state of light may offer insights for exploring the behaviour of toroidal vortices in other disciplines and find important applications in light–matter interactions, optical manipulation, photonic symmetry and topology, and quantum information.

(Via Toroidal vortices of light)

In his 1976 novel The Space Beyond, science fiction writer and editor John W. Campbell described a magnetic projector that projects a vortex of magnetic force:

He took the other pistol, and raised it. It was a stock, surmounted by a sphere, glowing as the other, but the barrel here was a curious thing, a straight tube of the insulating material, with metal ribs running lengthwise, but surrounded by toroidal coils set at progressively changing angles. The barrel was nearly two feet long. This was a shoulder weapon, and a harness of stout leather belts bound it to the shoulder, as though a pull rather than a kick were expected.

Further, the sphere here was nearly eight inches in diameter, and set low, below the barrel. Thaen pointed it toward a block of iron that must have weighed some ten pounds, resting on a bench some other men had set up. He pressed the release button, and from the inch-wide muzzle a stream of blue-glowing rings sprang, rushed swiftly to the iron, and bathed it in soft light. Instantly the iron jumped, Thaen stiffened, and the weight leaped from the table toward the gun. As it reached the edge it fell, and the gun was dragged downward with it. It struck the floor, and traveled swiftly toward the weapon. Infive seconds it was at Thaen's feet, and he shut off the device. The rings died out, the iron slid to a stop...

"...ring lightning instead of ball, and the rings are spinning about their common axis! A charge moving in a circle, makes a magnetic field—selenoid effect—with a long, long coil."

Thanks to Winchell Chung (aka @nyrath) of ProjectRho for providing the article and science fiction quotes.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/29/2022)

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