Monday, July 6, 2015

A falling stream of water will break into droplets due to the...



A falling stream of water will break into droplets due to the Plateau-Rayleigh instability. Small disturbances can create a wavy perturbation in the falling jet. Under the right conditions, the pressure caused by surface tension will be larger in the narrower regions and smaller in the wider ones. This imbalance will drive flow toward the wider regions and away from the narrower ones, thereby increasing the waviness in the jet. Eventually, the wavy jet breaks into droplets, which enclose the same volume of water with less surface area than the perturbed jet did. The instability is named for Joseph Plateau and Lord Rayleigh, who studied it in the late 19th century and showed that a falling jet of a non-viscous fluid would break into droplets if the wavelength of its disturbance was larger than the jet’s circumference.  (Image credit: N. Morberg)

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