Millimetric droplets may walk across the surface of a vibrating fluid bath, propelled forward by their own guiding or “pilot” wave field. We here consider the interaction of such walking droplets with a submerged circular pillar. While simple scattering events are the norm, as the waves become more pronounced, the drop departs the pillar along a path corresponding to a logarithmic spiral. The system behavior is explored both experimentally and theoretically, using a reduced numerical model in which the pillar is simply treated as a region of decreased wave speed. A trajectory equation valid in the limit of weak droplet acceleration is used to infer an effective force due to the presence of the pillar, which is found to be a lift force proportional to the product of the drop’s walking speed and its instantaneous angular speed around the post. This system presents a macroscopic example of pilot-wave-mediated forces giving rise to apparent action at a distance.

See paper: Harris, D.M., Brun, P.-T., Damiano, A., Faria, L.M. and Bush, J.W.M. (2018)