Solving another mystery of an amazing water walker

December 10, 2007
Solving another mystery of an amazing water walker
Scientists have found a new explanation for the water strider's "miraculous" ability to lead onto a liquid surface without sinking. Credit: Ho-Young Kim, Seoul National University, Korea

Walking on water may seem like a miracle to humans, but it is a ho-hum for the water strider and scientists who already solved the mystery of that amazing ability. Now researchers in Korea are reporting a long-sought explanation for the water strider’s baffling ability to leap onto a liquid surface without sinking. The study is scheduled for the Dec. 18 issue of ACS’ Langmuir.

In the new study, Ho-Young Kim and Duck-Gyu Lee note that scientists already have discovered the hydrophobic, or water-repellent, structure of the water strider’s legs and how they allowed the creatures to scoot along ponds and placid lakes. However, their ability to jump onto or “bounce” off liquid surfaces remained a lingering scientific mystery.

Kim and Lee solved it by dropping a highly water-repellent sphere onto the surface of water at different speeds, carefully tracking its motion with high-speed cameras. They found that the ball must be traveling within a narrow velocity range in order to bounce off the water’s surface. The sphere may sink if it goes too fast and won’t bounce back if too slow.

“The highly improved ability of heavy hydrophobic solids to keep afloat on water even after impacting upon water with a high velocity appears to explain partially why water striders have superhydrophobic legs,” say the authors. “Application of our study can be extended to developing semi-aquatic robots that mimic such insects having the surprising mobility on water.”

Source: American Chemical Society

Explore further: Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century: study

Related Stories

How drought affects freshwater fish

February 4, 2019

When we think of a river, dark, cool rushing water —full of energy and life —comes to mind. Yet, in the face of climate change we are frequently witnessing almost entirely dry river beds with barely enough water to ...

Better fish welfare using 'sensor fish'

February 4, 2019

After many decades of salmon farming, recent years have seen studies into fish welfare in connection with issues such as how fish are treated in their cages. In particular, the fish farming sector is looking for better approaches ...

Physicists create exotic electron liquid

February 4, 2019

By bombarding an ultrathin semiconductor sandwich with powerful laser pulses, physicists at the University of California, Riverside, have created the first "electron liquid" at room temperature.

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.