The Water Bridge

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This short film offers an artistic look at the phenomenon of the water bridge. When subjected to a large voltage difference, such as the 30 kV used in the film, flow can be induced between water in two separated beakers. This creates a water bridge seemingly floating on air. There are two main forces opposing the bridge: gravity, which causes it to sag, and capillary action, which tries to thin the bridge to the point where it will break into droplets. These forces are countered by polarization forces induced at the liquid interface due to the electrical field separating the water’s positive and negative charges. This separation of charges creates normal stresses along the water surface, which counteracts the gravitational and capillary forces on the bridge. The artist has done a beautiful job of capturing the unsteadiness and delicacy of the phenomenon. (Video credit: Lariontsev Nick)

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