Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group
What is Nonlinear Physics?
Nonlinear physics is a catch-all term for the study of the dynamics of driven, open,
non-equilibrium systems. Our group is mainly concerned with the phenomenon of pattern
formation. When a nonlinear, dissipative system ( that is, one with friction ) is driven hard
enough, it will often undergo a symmetry-breaking instability which takes it to a regular
pattern state. The pattern is a dynamical state sustained by the driving forces which can
have a high degree of periodic order and symmetry, even while it is producing and exporting entropy.
Patterns are simple examples of emergent, self-organized structures which exist under non-equilibrium
conditions. Surprisingly ordered nonequilibrium patterns are found in many different places in
nature, including convection cells in fluids, spirals in oscillatory chemical reactions, ripples on
blown sand, and in many biological and geological processes.
You can get more information on our experiments
in the following areas:
Media links: our work in the news
- Patterns inside of icicles
- Tiny bubbles that make icicles hazy are filled with water, not air, Science News Jan. 6, 2023.
- Icicle Structure Reveals Growth Dynamics APS Synopsis, Nov. 17, 2022.
- Researchers advance insights into cause of ripples on icicles, Science Daily, Dec. 5, 2022.
- John Wheeler: Recent study reveals why some icicles look different than others, Detroit Lakes Tribune, December 18, 2022.
- The Icicle Atlas
- Why is an icicle like an icicle?, The Walrus Oct. 26, 2018.
- The Weird And Wonderful World Of Icicle Science, Gizmodo, March 18, 2015.
- Everything You Need To Know About Icicles...But Were Too Cold To Ask, New Hampshire Public Radio, March 12, 2015.
- The Icicle Atlas, on the Current Awareness Portal, National Diet Library, (in Japanese).
- University of Toronto professor's Icicle Atlas explains why icicles look how they look, Yonge Street magazine, March 27, 2015.
- Why Icicles Look the Way They Do, the New York Times, March 16, 2015.
- The mysterious (and cool) science of icicles, The Globe and Mail, March 2, 2015.
- U of T professor creates Icicle Atlas with 230,000 icy images, The Toronto Star, March 5, 2015.
- Online Icicle Atlas offers jackpot of scientific data, Eureka Alert, March 4, 2015.
- Online Icicle Atlas offers jackpot of scientific data, Phys.org, March 4, 2015.
- Create your own 3D printed icicle projects using the Icicle Atlas, 3Ders, 3D Printing and 3D Printer News, March 8, 2015.
- 'Icicle Atlas' compiled by U of T professor Stephen Morris, CBC News Toronto, March 6, 2015.
- Icicle morphology:
- Icicles' ripples part of enduring scientific mystery, The Toronto Star, Feb. 2014.
- Icicles: a Symbol of winter and a scientific mystery, Washington Post, Feb. 2014.
- Icicles: a symbol of winter and a scientific mystery, Santa Fe New Mexican, Feb. 2014.
- James Bond's Alcoholic Ways, Icicle Ripples, Chemical and Engineering News, Jan. 2014.
- Water impurities key to an icicle's ripples, Phys Org, Oct. 2013.
- Water purity key to wavy icicle riddle, Australian Broadcasting Corp., News in Science, Oct. 2013.
- Pinch of salt makes for bumpy icicles Nature, Research Highlights, Community Choice, Nov. 2013.
- Ripple effect, Science News, Nov. 2013.
- FYFD blog, Jan. 2013.
- Riddles of a rippled icicle, Inside Science, Dec. 2013.
- Freeze frame, APS Physics synopsis, Feb. 18 2011.
- Ice Cold Science in YES mag, (for kids) Jan/Feb 2011.
- O tajemstvích vody a (ne)dokonalostech rampouchů, OSEL (in czech), Jan 2011.
- Ice stalactite dynamics, Geology in Motion blog, Nov 2010.
- Icicle Shape Can Be Much Stranger Than Thought, FOX News, Dec 25, 2010.
- Így készül a tökéletes jégcsap , [origo] tudomány, (in Hungarian).
- Icicles in Toronto, Improbable Research, Aug, 2010.
- As the icicle turns, drip by drip, machine freezes out existing theory, Science News, Aug. 13, 2010.
- "A supernova in a jar", chemically reacting plumes:
- Washboard road experiment:
- Columnar Joints and the Giant's Causeway:
The Experimental Nonlinear Physics Group, Dept. of Physics, University of
60 St. George St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5S 1A7.