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Life’s Mystery #245 Solved : Raindrops…

By on Feb 12, 2007 in On A Whim | 3 comments

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While studying the Fluids chapter in our boring NCERT book, a question came across my mind – what shape are raindrops? After attaining terminal velocity, won’t they be spherical in shape?

To this I must say it got many people I asked confused, Rach for example, who couldn’t think of anything else but the teardrop shape. He must’ve been watching too many mindless cartoons lately. In the end, the suspense got too much for me, and I found the answer where I least expected it – Wikipedia. Here’s what it had to say:

Falling raindrops are often depicted in cartoons or anime as “teardrop-shaped” — round at the bottom and narrowing towards the top — but this is incorrect. Only drops of water dripping from some sources are tear-shaped at the moment of formation. Small raindrops are nearly spherical. Larger ones become increasingly flattened on the bottom, like hamburger buns; very large ones are shaped like parachutes. The shape of raindrops was studied by Philipp Lenard in 1898. He found that small raindrops (less than about 2 mm diameter) are approximately spherical. As they get larger (to about 5 mm diameter) they become more dough nut-shaped. Beyond about 5 mm they become unstable and fragment. On average, raindrops are 1 to 2 mm in diameter. The biggest raindrops on Earth were recorded over Brazil and the Marshall Islands in 2004 — some of them were as large as 10 mm. The large size is explained by condensation on large smoke particles or by collisions between drops in small regions with particularly high content of liquid water.

There then, and I was spending time on so many physics forums for this. Silly me. Gotta get back to studying now then.



3 Comments

  1. Rach

    February 13, 2007

    Post a Reply

    lemme guess. r the larger ones doughnut shaped bcoz of the enrgies shit i was talking abt?
    cum to think of it, it explains the doughnut shape, not the tear-drop shape.

  2. Great Quizzard

    February 14, 2007

    Post a Reply

    Hey bozo, if you didn’t read, there ARE no teardrop shaped raindrops. Doughnut shape is a distortion of spherical brought about by air resistance. The one thing you forgot while discussing energies is that you didn’t consider the surface tension factor.

    Give up dude, you know I was right all along…

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