Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: Water Flowing Uphill?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Can water really move uphill? My dad dumped his electric razor stubble in the commode as it was refilling and the small hairs started climbing up the sides of the bowl where the water was trickling down! Why does it do that? This is impossible isn’t it?
- Chucky (age 13)
Alberta Junior high, Albion, IL, USA
A:
You're right, gravity tends to pull everything, including water, downward. In the case you describe there may be other forces acting, however. Surface tension, for example, can sometimes pull a thin layer of liquid upward along a surface. Its hard to say exactly what was going on in the case you describe. I suggest you do some experiments to see if you can make it happen again, and try to determine which factors makes it work better or worse.

Adam

(published on 10/22/2007)

Follow-up on this answer.