Getting Wet is the Worst!


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            Hate getting wet? Well so did some M. I. T. and Boston University Researchers. They were thinking about icing--"which is a version of getting wet"--and chose to look into how long a water droplet is in contact with a surface. According to the researchers, once water drops touch a frozen surface, there's a certain amount of time that it can stay in liquid form before it freezes, which is a serious problem for planes and other kinds of machinery.

            The researchers found, with an extremely high-speed camera, that while common sense might tell us that a smooth surface would be best for repelling water, that may not actually be the case. Rough, rigid surfaces tended to work a lot better for repelling water. The ridges on the surfaces broke up the water drops, making them much smaller. The smaller drops also "bounced away up to 40 percent quicker than the larger drops."

            Once the researchers had seen this, they wondered if evolution had helped out other life forms and done the same things. They found that it in fact had. Animals like the morpho butterfly and plants like nasturitiums both have evolved to have rougher surfaces to bounce water off of them.

            Supposedly, with more experimenting, the contact time with the surface could be cut by eighty percent! Leading to a lot less ice freezing onto wings of airplanes. That would certainly put me at ease when I'm in the air. I have some fear of flying, and knowing that I'm that much safer when I'm on the plane would be very good information to have.

http://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000002581092/sceincetake-splash.html

1 Comment

After reading this article, my mind wandered to humans' skin and how our bodies can repel water more effectively. Exposure to cold water can lead to sickness and even death, and our skin is rather ineffective at repelling water and keeping our bodies warm. Rough surfaces' ability to break up water drops and make them bounce off a surface more quickly reminds me of human's hair and its' presence throughout the body's surface. While a coat of fur would be more effective at keeping a human body warm, I'm wondering if the thousands of separate hair strands can separate drops of water and remove them from the skin's surface more effectively. Clearly more scientific research on this topic is needed before any definite conclusions can be reached, but your blog post inspired me to brainstorm about how this new information could benefit humanity and to wonder if evolution has already occurred to help humans combat exposure to water.

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