Measuring Really Tiny Waves


When you let a drop of water fall into a bath of water, the droplet, unsurprisingly, coalesces into the bath. However, in the mid 1900’s it was noticed that if the bath is vibrating, the drop will never coalesce into the bath and will stay sustained bouncing on a thin film of air that is forever replenished with each bounce. This was well known for many years and these bouncing droplets were always observed staying in place. This all changed, however, in the early 2000’s when, just by accident and with some unique experimental parameters, the bouncing droplet started walking along the¬†surface being propelled by the very waves it created on previous bounces. While this¬†may sound like it is a very isolated phenomenon, this, in fact, has everything to do with quantum mechanics, and this is why I chose to go to MIT to be a part of this group, or, better said in the words of Morgan Freeman, this rebel band of scientists. This project has been recently finished (along with my Master’s Degree!), so more details and aesthetic graphics will come in the coming months.

Photograph of a walker's wavefield

Photograph of a walker’s wavefield. Photo Credit: Dan Harris

 

 

Visualization of surface topography of walker

Wavefield of a walker in the Bouncing Droplet Experiment