NextGen Physics

Upward motion of condensed water droplets in still air

Upward motion of water droplets when not supported by convection currents has been observed (Piyadasa, 2012), (Piyadasa, 2019), as presented in Videos 1 and 2.  Such phenomenon cannot be adequately explained by existing theories.  Water is nearly 1,000 times denser than air.  If so, why do water droplets move upwards in still air, against the gravitational pull by the earth?

Video 1. This animation shows that the path of condensed water droplet that are ejected downwards from spout of a kettle.

Video 2. Thermal image of downward projected steam. Those steam convert in to water droplets when the temperature drops at the spout (directed downwards) of the kittle.

Thermal images (Video 2 and Figure 1) present downward projected condensed steam droplets taken at room temperature (24°C) from the Cryogenically cooled third generation forward looking infrared (FLIR) thermal camera (3-5μm).  As presented in Figure 1a and b (Piyadasa, 2012), there is no primary thermal energy source below the turnaround point (TAP) of water droplets.  Only the radiation from the mixture of condensed steam (water) droplets and water vapor emanating from the tube, heats up the surrounding air making possible contributions towards convection.  The thermal image Figure 1b shows that the temperature below TAP cannot cause conditions for convection.  The lower part, between lines UV and XY shows (Figure 1c) decreasing temperature from 600C to 240C, which definitely inhibits any possible upward convection movement.

Figure 1. Figure extracted from the reference [9] - Thermal image of the turnaround point (TAP) of the stream of the condensed steam droplets (CSD) and the vertical temperature distribution of the middle of TAP area. (a) Thermal image of downward projected CSD taken from the Cryogenically cooled third generation forward looking infrared (FLIR) thermal camera (3-5μm). (b) Temperature distribution at the droplet turning around area. Colour gradient is proportional to the temperature as shown in the plate below (c) Temperature distribution along the line AB in (b).

Source: “Will rising water droplets change science?” by C. K. G. Piyadasa, 2011, Canadian Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.1995, Reprinted by permission of SENRA Academic Publishers, 5919 129 B Street Surrey, British Columbia, Canada V3X 0C5.

  • Thermal image reveals that there is no significant increase in temperature below the turning point (Figure 1), by thermal radiation from heated water droplets moving above.
  • A decreasing temperature gradient (Figure 1(c)), instead, is found. Such does not support upward movement of either gas or liquid according to the current knowledge of convection. 

Important points to mention related to fundamental aspects of upward motion of water droplets due to convection currents

  1. No air molecules can exert pressure on water droplets: Pressure exerted by air molecules would affect water droplets if average dimensions of the latter suffice a condition.  Pressure is a continuum property.  In practice, the average dimension (d) of the area affected by pressure has to be larger than at least 10 times the square of the mean free path (λ) (Michael, 2013) e)) of air molecules, i.e. d > 10 > λ2   In the case of convection current, the upward thrust by air molecules act on horizontal cross-section of water droplets.

The average dimension (diameter in this case) of a water droplet due to condensed steam at room temperature of 30°C and relative humidity around 70% is around 10µm (Piyadasa, 2012).   The mean free path of air at atmospheric pressure and temperature 30°C is approximately 65 ηm (Jennings, 1988).  The minimum average length d (i.e., ) of the area required to be affected by pressure is equal nearly to 42.3 µm.  Water droplets that we consider in this experiment, however, are around 10 µm in diameter, which is much smaller than the minimum dimension that should prevail to be affected by the pressure due to molecular motion of air convection.  Air convection, therefore, cannot affect water droplets even if convection currents do exist.

  1. Momentum transfer from air molecules to water droplets is impossible: It has been proven that, even if updraft does exist, it is not possible to drive water droplets upwards in mid-air by energy transfer (momentum transfer) from air molecules to water droplets; the only fundamental mechanism in energy transfer in classical mechanics.  Consider the facts:
  • Mass of a 10 μm water droplet =          5 × 10-6 kg
  • Mass of an average air molecule =          8 × 10-26 kg

Mass of a 10 μm water droplet is, hence, 1020 times greater than average mass of an air molecule.  It is thus clear that according to ‘Newton’s Third Law’ momentum (energy) transfer from air molecules to water droplets is impossible in quantities sufficient to stop downward projected water droplets (condensed steam) from the spout and turn around to move upwards!  In this collision, according to classical mechanics, hardly any kinetic energy/momentum is transferred to water droplets from air molecules (calculation in (Piyadasa, 2019) Appendix B).

It is clear from the above three arguments, that:

  1. No convection currents occur at TAP,
  2. Cross sectional areas of the water molecules are not sufficient to experience a pressure force from air molecules due to mean free path
  3. Momentum transfer between water droplets and air molecules shows that there is hardly any energy/momentum transferred.

Phenomena shown Figure 1, and Videos 1 and 2 are further challenged by the experiment shown below.  The temperature gradient needed for supporting/creating convection currents in air are further reduced by introducing an ice cylinder as shown in Figure 2.  Notwithstanding the more challenging conditions created by the ice cylinder, condensed steam (water) droplets projected downwards turn around at some point and started moving upward (see Video 2).  Please refer (Piyadasa, 2019) for detailed description.

Figure 2. (a) Condensed water droplets are ejected downwards inside an ice cylinder. (b) Upward movement of water droplets inside the ice cylinder is observed. (c) The temperature distribution inside the ice cylinder and the movement path of condensed water droplets.

The above discussed experimentally verified observations cannot be explained by existing theories!  These observations, nevertheless, can easily be explained by considering a gravitational repulsion force in addition to the gravitational attraction force.

What causes gravitational repulsion?

As gravitational attraction is caused by the mass, the gravitational repulsion is caused by the thermal energy.  Please see Figure 3.

Figure 3 Forces acting in between two arbitrary particles with masses Mass1, Mass2 and temperatures Temperature1, Temperature2. There exist repulsion forces (red arrows) and attraction (blue arrows) between them

Explanation considering both gravitational repulsion (Antigravity) and attraction

Above experimental observation simply tells us that there is a cryptic force, which acts as a repulsive force (i.e. a repulsive force between the Earth and water droplets) against the direction of gravitational pull.  This phenomenon can be better explained by considering both gravitational repulsion (Antigravity) and attraction.


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