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Why Do Water Drops Splash?

Why Do Water Drops Splash? - By Felicia



Look at the water drop above. A simple sphere made of water. You probably never even think twice about it. But there are so many interesting things about them. What are they? How are they made? Why are they even made? Why are they shaped like this? And most of all, why do they splash? In this article, we’ll cover everything about water drops. Let’s go!


First of all, let’s cover our first question: how and why are water drops made? According to wikipedia.com, droplets form when liquid accumulates at the end of a long tube, which makes a hanging drop called a pendant drop. You might have seen something like this when water drips down the tap, but the droplet hasn’t quite fallen down yet. You could even try recording it in slow-mo and watch it! When the pendant drop gets too heavy to hold itself up, the pendant drop falls and becomes a regular drop. Drops could also be formed by the condensation of a vapor, like when you breathe on a car window in the cold, only the drops are bigger. But mostly, when raindrops fall from the sky as rain, it’s a completely different story. There are impurities in the air such as dust and pollen, and water collects on them. After that, raindrops start to form in a roughly spherical structure due to the surface tension of water. Actually, the size and shape depends on the diameter of the raindrop. Here’s a helpful chart that represents this really well:



Second of all, why are water droplets shaped like a pointy oval? From what I found on gpm.nasa.gov and wikipedia.com, they are shaped like this for a reason. Looking at the chart, though, they don’t always look like that perfect spherical/pointy oval shape that is depicted in the image at the top of this article. They actually vary greatly in size depending on their diameter, and they can actually split apart while falling down, if they are big enough!


Third of all, why do water drops splash? This is actually the main question that inspired my whole article, and this article from zmescience.com also played a big part. As it says, when a liquid drop splashes into a solid, like when you stain the table with coffee, the large drop hits the solid. This causes the surface tension to shatter, which makes some liquid at the top splash around in tiny drops. When a drop hits the water, it’s the same principle, but the air in between the drop and the water splashes up, which makes the tiny drops go up, and the main drop go down.




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