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I was boiling water in chem lab the other day and I was watching the bubbles rise (they kind of spiral around as they rise). Is there some way to calculate the path of the bubbles or is it random? What does it depend on?
- Cynthia (age 17)
I think it is possible to calculate the motion of the bubbles in an
average sense, but not in detail. For example, we know the bubbles
rise, which we can calculate from very elementary gravity
considerations. At the slightly more detailed level we know that the
bubbles may be swirled around by any convection currents present, which
can also be understood with a bit more work. However, to really
understand the *exact* path of each bubble is an impossible problem to
solve since these will be chaotic (just like it is impossible to
perfectly predict the weather).
It all depends on how much detail you want. MS
(republished on 07/31/06)
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