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Name: Lori
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: MA
Date: April 2007

Question:
Why does the water bounce back up in the air in a funnel sort of shape when a rock drops into it?



Replies:
A flying rock hitting the water carries a lot of kinetic energy with it. When the rock hits the water and accelerates negatively, the water absorbs the energy. The only way it can dissipate the energy is by moving outward. Since there is water already below and around it, the easiest path for water is to move upward, thus forming the splash. That water comes back down due to gravity, and a cycle of up and down commences. The up-and-down oscillation creates waves that dissipate the energy outward. The waves are then dissipated by friction.

The actual shape of the splash is extremely complicated to predict, but a simple energy balance (energy can be converted, but is not created or destroyed) explains a lot of why a splash occurs.

Hope this is helpful,

Burr Zimmerman



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