Diagram showing how the spheres disrupt convection: At the top left is an anti-clockwise convection cell where the balls are starting to be pushed from left to right. The top right shows the system after the flow has packed the balls into the right side of the tank. Note that the upward flow of heat (black arrow)has shifted to the left side of the tank because the carpet of balls is insulating the hot bottom plate from the liquid. This causes the flow to reverse (bottom right), causing the balls to move to the left (bottom left). Then, the process begins over again. (Courtesy: American Physical Society).
Back to article