Research

The Shape of Splashes

When a wedge falls into a pool, it creates a distinctive, doubly-curved splash. Here’s how it works. When the front of the wedge first enters the water, it creates a thin sheet of fluid that gets ejected diagonally upward. As the wedge sinks further, the sheet thickens and ejects at a more vertical angle. That creates a low pressure zone in the air beside the splash, which causes outside air to flow inward, generating a sort of Venturi effect under the splash. Because the outer part of the splash sheet is thinner, it’s more strongly affected by the air flow beneath it, and it gets pulled downward, enhancing the splash’s curvature.

This doubly-curved splash is particular to wedges of the right angle. To see what kind of splashes other shapes make, check out the video below. (Image and video credit: Z. Sakr et al.; for more, see L. Vincent et al.)

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