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Surface tension of water

Surface tension of water

C038/9387

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Credit

DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Droplets of rain on the surface of a leaf of the Giant Himalayan lily, Cardiocrinum giganteum var. The picture shows a young leaf following a shower of rain. The red hue of the veins is characteristic of the variety; the wild type leaf is consistently green.The surface of the leaf is covered with a hydrophobic wax layer. This causes the water to form distinct droplets, rather than to spread out into a continuous film. The shape of the droplets is determined by two forces; surface tension and gravity. Surface tension tries to produce the smallest possible surface area of the droplet, which would be a sphere. Gravity tends to flatten and spread the droplets. In this picture, the larger droplets are flattened and have an irrregular outline. Only the very smallest (lightest in weight) droplets approach a circular outline, corresponding to a sphere in three dimensions.

Release details

Model release not required. Property release not required.

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