Raindrops splash before they hit the groundApril 27th, 2009 - 12:27 pm ICT by ANI
London, April 27 (ANI): In a new research that involved the use of computer simulations, scientists have shown that raindrops actually splash just a few microseconds before hitting the ground.
A liquid drop hitting a surface often flattens into a thin sheet that then bounces to form a crown shape.
Previous experiments have suggested the surrounding air plays a role: a droplet doesn’t splash so easily when the air pressure is low, instead spreading out into a thin pancake.
Now, according to a report in New Scientist, Shreyas Mandre of Harvard University and colleagues ran computer simulations of liquid drops hitting a solid surface, accounting for factors such as air pressure and the drop’s surface tension.
Their results showed that a typical raindrop - roughly 2 millimeters wide and traveling at a few meters per second - compresses air in front of it a few microseconds before hitting a solid surface.
This creates an air cushion that causes the raindrop to flatten and spread out, which the team believe would be less likely if the drop was striking a higher friction surface, and may help the splash evolve into a crown.
According to Mandre, splashing is still poorly understood, so describing such processes could help create splash-suppressing materials for use in kitchens, for example. (ANI)
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Tags: air cushion, air pressure, colleagues, compresses, computer simulations, crown shape, droplet, friction surface, harvard university, hitting the ground, kitchens, liquid drop, microseconds, new scientist, raindrop, raindrops, solid surface, surface tension, thin pancake, thin sheet