What is Surface Tension?

2020-11-11T15:52:23-06:00
11/11
Water droplets atop a coin form a flattened spherical shape due to surface tension. Photo by Nicole Sharp.
Water droplets atop a coin form a flattened spherical shape due to surface tension. Photo by Nicole Sharp.
What is Surface Tension?

Surface tension is a somewhat peculiar force. Its effects are all around us, from bubbles and droplets to cleaning our dishes. Surface tension is an important force in our daily lives. But what is it really? Since it tends to act at the scale of millimeters or smaller, we don’t always notice it. It’s critical, however, for many creatures smaller than us, from water-walking insects to star-nosed moles that sniff out food underwater. So what is surface tension and where does it come from?

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