Surface tension: keeping you tied to the water surface

A few days ago I was chatting to one friend in facebook, who has her BSc first year exam ahead. She brought me down to my memory lane where we had a course called general properties of matter (in short GPM) in BSc. It had stuff like fluid mechanics, surface tension, elasticity. I used to hate the course since many things were quite obscure and everything sounded very mechanical (just like derivations and digestion of formulas).

Nonetheless, a few days after the conversation I found someone sharing this besutiful pic on my facebook wall.

Wasp floating due to surface tension

Yes, it is the surface tension of liquid that lets the wasp float on the water.

Do you know the Science Guy (Bill Nye)? Here is a funny video from the 90’s TV show. See if you can understand all the demos (specifically the balloon one).

Now water striders, ants, wasps, and Jesus Lizard can walk on the water. What about us, the homo sapiens? There is something called Liquid Mountaineering. Watch the crazy video below.

5 thoughts on “Surface tension: keeping you tied to the water surface

  1. as the flux was made hot the gas within it expanded but next when the flux was cooled down the temperature decreases,the volume contracts,but due to decrease in temperature to a large extent pressure inside decreases rapidly and to keep the pressure same both side the outside air(from higher pressure region)tried to enter in it forcefully..and thus the membrane of balloon was ripped..
    but I couldn’t understand where’s the view of surface tension in this experiment..the experiments with powder and paper boat were only related to surface tension…

  2. Swarnali, you’re right. There’s no role of surface tension for the deflation of the balloon. Since this experiment comes first in the show, I deliberately wanted to mislead (I apologize).

    I guess you wanted to say ‘flask’ instead of ‘flux’. Also the volume of the air inside the flask increases since some of the vapor molecules go back into the water and hence pressure decreases.

    Since the liquid part is not directly involved, ST should not have any role on the balloon.

    As you might have also noticed, the last experiment doesn’t fit into the ST category too.

    Good to see that you correctly pointed out. šŸ™‚

  3. I believe the trick in the last video is not entirely dependent on the surface tension. One has to run very fast or maybe in a certain way. It may have some similarity with the Pebble Skipping game that we used to play in childhood (We used to call ‘byangbaji’ in Bengali).

    But it’s amazing anyway!

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