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Video: Ink On A Leaf Zooming Around A Puddle Leaves Netizens Mesmerized

The clip is captioned that the pen ink on leaf changes the surface tension of water behind it, thus propelling the leaf forward due to the Marangoni effect.


A video of a leaf with ink on it zooming through the puddle of water has amused the internet. Shared by the official handle of the wonder of science on Twitter, the 13-second clip shows a green leaf propelled with force like a boat in the water. The clip is captioned that the pen ink on the leaf changes the surface tension of the water behind it, thus propelling the leaf forward with trails behind in a unique phenomenon known as the Marangoni effect. 

With over 171.7k views and 12k likes, the clip sparked a huge reaction in the comments as users shared their own little experiments with the “Marangoni effect”. In another video shared by Wonder of Science, it tutored on how to make one’s own paper boat at home and power it with this phenomenon.

A science research explains that usually, at the bor­der be­tween the boat and the wa­ter’s sur­face, the wa­ter ac­tive­ly “pulls” the boat to it­self. Directly proportional to surface tension, this force tends to pull the boat in all di­rec­tions equal­ly, and there­fore the boat re­mains sta­tion­ary. However, if one adds ink or soap, these products co­tain sur­fac­tants, which re­duce the sur­face ten­sion of the wa­ter. And therefore, this weak­ens the wa­ter’s “grip” on the boat sig­nif­i­cant­ly and it seems that the ink push­es the boat for­ward creating the impressions.  

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Users narrate experience

“You can do the same thing with a drop of dish detergent. Has to do with disrupting the surface tension of the water. I will say though that the ink seems to do a better job. Note that you likely won’t be able to do it more than once to the same puddle. For those curious. Fill a bowl with water, pour in a bunch of table pepper, and use a toothpick dipped in dish detergent. Same principle. Good bar trick” wrote a user on Reddit. “Quite beautiful,” wrote another. “Wouldn't that be considered as magic centuries ago,” wrote the third. The video about the effect was also shared on YouTube with a caption, "The differences of surface tension between soap and water can really make things go! This video shows some interesting demos illustrating the Marangoni Effect. Two liquids with different surface tensions will result in a surface tension gradient, resulting in a net force."

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First Published:
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