This is What Happens When You Wring a Washcloth in Space

| 22 Apr 2013 22:36

Watch astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrate the physics of soaking wet fabric in zero g.

Aboard the ISS, hundreds of miles above the earth, there is important science to be done. There are burning questions to be answered, some of which will be vital to the future of humanity. There is also Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who, with his Twitter client open and a camera in hand, seems bent on having as much fun as possible before they make him come home. Recently, Hadfield saw fit to answer a question posed by some students who wondered what would happen if you wrung a sopping wet washcloth in zero gravity.

The answer, of course, comes down to surface tension. Like Hadfield recently demonstrated as a response to the question of whether or not you can cry in space, the cohesive force between water molecules will pull them towards the center of the mass, forming floating spheres or dome like masses. In the case of a wrung cloth, it turns out that you get a watery tube. This is all because of the absence of gravity, or rather, the microgravity, at work on the station. As you watch, you can see little spheres of water get flung off by the force of Hadfield's moving hands.

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