Liquid Splash Shapes
Date: April 2007
Why does the water bounce back up in the air in a funnel
sort of shape when a rock drops into it?
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
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,
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Update: June 2012