Phenomena

Self-Stopping Leaks

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A leak can actually stop itself, as shown in this video. To demonstrate, the team used a tube pierced with a small hole. When filled, water initially shoots out the hole in a jet. The pressure driving the jet comes from the weight of the fluid sitting above the hole. As the water level drops, the pressure drops, causing the jet to sag and eventually form a rivulet that wets the side of the tube. As the water level and driving pressure continue to fall, the rivulet breaks up into discrete droplets, whose exact behavior depends on how hydrophobic the tube is. Eventually, a final droplet forms a cap over the hole and the leak stops. At this point, the flow’s driving pressure is smaller than the pressure formed by the curvature of the capping droplet. (Image and video credit: C. Tally et al.)

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