Monday, October 01, 2007

Surface Tension

Liquid Light

Interesting, isn't it? Looks like an exploding drop of liquid light. What it actually is: rain on the overhead windows in PI's inner yard. I took some photos of the drops when it stopped raining, and in the one above the flashlight went off. Here are two photos without the flash, it's more obvious then what you're looking at


And here is the overhead window from a larger distance, and without any editing. You are looking down, what you see is the reflection of the building and the sky, the dark part in the middle is the corridor connecting the North with the South wing:

Overhead Window



  1. Those are great shots, Bee!

  2. Very cool! One of the things I love seeing is when it's been raining and it's cold so that the drops seem frozen to the tree limbs. Not really frozen but slowed down so that they don't fall.

  3. The two top photos are really quite extraordinary. With the knowledge following, you then get the picture? :)

    When you highlighted "surface tension" I immediately thought of the coincidence this morning with regards to the term, "isostatic adjustment."

    Planets are round because their gravitational field acts as though it originates from the center of the body and pulls everything toward it. With its large body and internal heating from radioactive elements, a planet behaves like a fluid, and over long periods of time succumbs to the gravitational pull from its center of gravity. The only way to get all the mass as close to planet's center of gravity as possible is to form a sphere. The technical name for this process is "isostatic adjustment."

    Also included in that thought was this.

    See your post "Water in Zero Gravity"

  4. 1) Quietly stencil a graphic of Einstein's face in Rain-X and await the next rainstorm.

    2) Maximal surface gravity is not a spherical homogeneous isotropic mass distribution. (Spherical coords [R, theta, phi]),

    Sphere, r(theta) = 2Rcos(theta)
    Schmoo, r(theta) = 5^(1/3)Rsqrt[cos(theta)]
    (6/5)(5/8)^(1/3) = 2.6% better

    Point mass m_0 is the origin upon which the mass array rests. The z-axis connects m_0 to the farthest point of the surface. A sphere rests on the xy plane with the z-axis passing through its center.

  5. The out-of-focus (or is it just me) of photos 2 & 3 make them psychedelic to me.

  6. Hi Arun:

    If you look at the larger image, you will notice that it's not out of focus, but that it's several reflections of the same drops that seem to run together towards the focus of the camera. All of the photos I have taken show this. It is not so apparent in the 2nd picture above because it's only part of an originally larger photo, so the center is no longer in the middle. In the smaller (and slightly compressed) copies above, these multiple images make the photo look somewhat blurred.

    I guess it has something to do with the thick glass, it reminds me a bit of these endless reflections one can produce in bathroom mirrors that run together somewhere in the infinite distance.



  7. Wow love that top pic
    Did you say it stopped raining or is that rain drops falling

  8. Dear Bee,

    these are really great pics! Looks like getting the best out of grey and rainy day!

    that it's several reflections of the same drops that seem to run together towards the focus of the camera.

    True, that's really interesting!

    So, you say, the photos are taken looking vertically down onto this glass ceiling of the PI ground floor?

    I guess these thick glass plates are made up of several layers, so besides the actual drop on top of the glass surface, one sees several reflections of the drop at the subsequent, lower-laying interfaces between the different glass layers. Then, the laws of geometrical optics and perspective make these reflected images "moving inwards" towards the vanishing point, and that creates this fascinating, exploding impression. Wow!

    Cheers, Stefan

  9. Hi Bee,

    Great pics!

    Especially the top-one! will look great on the cover of a book you might write some day :-)



  10. "The Big Bang in a Brane World"

  11. Hi Klaus,

    Now that would make for a funny way to write a book. Pick a cover and try to chose content so it fits together ;-) Unfortunately, none of the books I could imagine writing would go very well with the photo.

    But it seems Arun has one in mind :-))



  12. incredible shots
    all three are amazing but I really love the first one with the flash reflection
    ps. wouldn't writing a book to reflect the cover be inkeeping with the tradition of physics


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