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Friday, April 19, 2024

The amazing oil and water trick

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If you want to impress your friends you could learn a few card tricks but they will just harass you until you tell them how it worked. You could learn how to juggle fire or knives but the time required and the danger involved likely isn’t worth the possible pat on the back you will receive. The best way to impress your friends and family is by visiting a lake on a choppy day and by causing it to become calm. This is a biblical level of miracle and if you pull it off right they will be in awe of you forever. How can you possibly calm a choppy lake though? Read on to find out.

To calm a choppy lake you might think that you need some incantations or sacrifices to please the gods but in reality, all you will need is a spoon of oil. If you drop a spoon of oil into a lake it will calm a wide circle around the area where you dropped it. There are many pictures and videos online of this sensation happen so there is no need to think you are being lied to right now, this is a scientific fact.

It really is just science. It happens because of the molecular difference between oil and water. Imagine the spoonful of oil that you have at a molecular level – there are maybe 5 million molecules of oil sitting on that spoon alone. When you drop the oil into the water they don’t sink to the bottom and they don’t stay clumped together. Instead, they spread out across the top of the water forming a circle around the area where you dropped it. If there are ripples on the lake when you first put it in you can watch how the oil circle expands and calms the water all around you in an expanding circle.

The scientific explanation is that the oil molecules switch onto their negatively charged side and stand on the positively charged water – like magnets. Ripples are formed on the water because of wind moving on top of the water and blowing it in a certain direction. If there is a layer of oil on top the wind can’t reach the water below and will just move the thick layer of oil slowly in a direction.

This is such an amazing fact you may wonder why no one has ever known before. It turns out that many people do know. Sailors used to use this trick in the olden days as a way to calm the water. Out at sea, they would need to use large barrels of oil but if they were in rough water they would do it to try to calm things a little bit. Apart from sailors though the fact that oil had a calming effect on the water was not known by many.

One man who famously knew this fact was Benjamin Franklin, the same Ben Franklin who was a founding father of America and discovered the principle of conservation of charge which led to the introduction of electricity. He would often visit lakes and to impress people he would touch his cane against the choppy waters and the waters would quickly calm. What the people didn’t know was that he had hidden a vile of oil at the bottom of his cane and simply released it at the opportune moment.

If Benjamin Franklin can use this trick to impress the media and crowds then we are sure you can use it to impress your friends and family. Simply pack a vile of oil in your pocket next time you are near a lake and if the water ever gets choppy get ready to save the day and be a hero.



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