23rd May 2024

Raindrops aren’t tear-shaped



What if snowflakes actually looked like pizza slices and hail stones resembled pretzels? In a research conducted as a part of NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement mission, scientists have discovered that raindrops look like hamburger buns!

It has been a long-standing belief that raindrops are tear-shaped. Cartoonists, illustration artists, doodle experts, and anyone who wishes to represent raindrops, have recreated the ideal tear-shaped image in every way imaginable.

However, a video made by NASA scientists has called it a myth. The video explains how a raindrop is spherical in the beginning and gains its ‘hamburger bun’ structure as it falls. A raindrop is spherical in the beginning due to surface tension. As it falls, air pressure from below pushes and distorts its shape. Air flow further flattens the bottom of the of the droplet while the top remains rounded. It gradually gains the shape of a hamburger bun. The raindrop keeps expanding in size, as it keeps joining with other droplets. The larger its size, the greater will be its distortion. Eventually the hamburger-bun shape gets distorted and it starts resembles a parachute. As a result, the surface tension of the large raindrop becomes insufficient to hold it together breaking the drops down into smaller sized ones.

In its entire journey from the cloud to the earth’s surface, a raindrop never looks like a tear.

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