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Visualization of Curl

This is a great visualization and explanation, of the curl of a vector field:


If you interpret a vector field as the flow of a fluid, then you can interpret the curl as a measure of the tendency to rotate at a given point.

One way to think of this is to imagine a tiny sphere, or paddle-wheel, fixed at a point in space, and then consider how that object would rotate if subjected to the flow of fluid as given by the vector field.

This write-up and series of animations from MathInsight.org are very useful in attaching some intuition to this complex idea.

Click here to see more in Resources.


  1. May 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for pointing out this page. I would not have known of it otherwise. The book by Purcell on EM has had a great effect on teaching EM and has similar pictures.

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