Art

Liquid Umbrella

When a water drop strikes a pool, it can form a cavity in the free surface that will rebound into a jet. If a well-timed second drop hits that jet at the height of its rebound, the impact creates an umbrella-like sheet like the one seen here. The thin liquid sheet expands outward from the point of impact, its rim thickening and ejecting tiny filaments and droplets as surface tension causes a Plateau-Rayleigh-type instability. Tiny capillary waves–ripples–gather near the rim, an echo of the impact between the jet and the second drop. All of this occurs in less than the blink of an eye, but with high-speed video and perfectly-timed photography, we can capture the beauty of these everyday phenomena. (Photo credit: H. Westum)

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