The Droplet Slide

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One of the joys of science is the sense of discovery that can come even from looking at something seemingly simple. Take, for example, a water droplet sitting on a plate. If you slowly tilt the plate, the droplet’s shape will shift until a critical angle where it starts sliding down the plate. But what happens to two initially different droplets? As this video shows, tilting two droplets of initially different shapes and returning them to horizontal causes the droplets to assume the same shape. There’s a universal behavior at work here–like nature has a kind of reset button that makes gravity and surface tension work together such that a droplet will assume a preferred shape. For an experimentalist, it’s certainly a handy way to create repeatable experiments! (Video credit: M. Musterd et al.)

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