Remember the Up is Down scene from the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End’ movie? Well, outside the cinema, a group of scientists has also managed to float a boat upside down! Making the molecules vibrate at a particular rate, a levitating liquid can be produced in which objects can float both ways. Sounds like fiction? Not any more!
Dr. Emmanuel Fort and his team of French scientists published a paper in Nature where they claim to have achieved an impossible feat. This group of scientists made a layer of viscous liquid hover in the air. And they also made a 3D printed toy boat float on both sides of this column of levitating liquid!
What we have learned till now is heavier items fall down due to gravity while lighter objects float. Be it oil floating on water or water floating over a denser liquid. But this new research has shown how a mixture of glycerol and silicon oil can be made to levitate.
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Molecules were made to vibrate at around 100 cycles per second. The bubbles were then pushed downwards which created an air cushion just under the levitating liquid. The steady rhythm of compression created from the vibration kept the liquid intact. For their demonstration, half a quart was lifted while the levitating liquid spread 8 inches wide. Dr. Fort confirmed that theoretically, this amount of liquid can be created many folds. “There’s no limit; you just have to shake more,” Dr. Fort said.
The Reality of Levitating Liquid
So how did the toy boat float upside down on the levitating liquid? This liquid mixture was created to be lighter in weight. The air between the liquid and the container was denser. Hence the air pushed the boat upwards into the levitating liquid as it counteracted the force of gravity. The scientist managed to stabilize the equilibrium. The net impact was a toy boat floating upside down on a levitating layer of liquid. The applications of this levitating liquid can be made in other areas too. The scientists believe they can now figure out easier ways to remove particles of plastic from liquids.
Dr. Fort and his team are amused by the results. Dr. Fort is glad how their experimentation has triggered even non-scientific minds to discuss the phenomenon. Science literature and movies have often talked about rivers flowing in reverse or boats floating upside down. But when you see it with your own eyes, the reality seems more than intriguing!
All videos by Fort et al.