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Weird Science: Rain Drops Are Not Really Drop Shaped!

SF (5-1) Rain drops captured falling during a spring thundershower. Notice the raindrops are circular.


Photo courtesy of NOAA

  • Falling rain drops are nearly spherical. This is because the molecules at the surface of a liquid feel a net attraction by other molecules toward the interior of the liquid. 
  • A sphere has the smallest surface area to volume ratio of any geometric shape. Thus, the surface area tends to be reduced as much a possible, forming a sphere (or very close to a sphere).
Exploring Our Fluid Earth, a product of the Curriculum Research & Development Group (CRDG), College of Education. University of Hawaii, 2011. This document may be freely reproduced and distributed for non-profit educational purposes.