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The Physics of the Familiar: Including what happens when paint dries: Articlle

What will happen as the drop of paint dries? Why should we care?

“In the same way, you may ask, ‘Why should you climb a mountain?’” Mahadevan says. “Some people do it for the challenge, but there is another aspect to it, and that is that you can actually see around you. You can see where you are.” But the path straight up the mountain may be too hard. “The difficulty could be technical, or experimental, or it could be mathematical—it doesn’t really matter.” But then, he continues, you see a little hill, and think, “Maybe I’ll climb up the hill. I will still be able to see around me—maybe not as far as from a mountain, but perhaps, once I get up there, I will find a path from that hill to a larger hill, and so on, from which I will be able to see the range, to understand the lay of the land, and know how to approach questions of a similar kind.”

So with the paint drop. As it dries, a skin will form. That is the natural consequence of liquid solvent leaving the surface fastest. “Now you have a skin, which is covering a drop, which is sitting on a surface, and you want to remove more liquid from inside. That is like drying a raisin,” says Mahadevan. When you remove some of the volume from beneath a fixed amount of surface skin, “the only thing the skin can do is wrinkle.”

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Erin Gray

About the Author: Erin Gray

Erin Gray is the Office & Marketing Manager/Finance Assistant for Wolfgang Commercial Painters, one of Vancouver's top commercial and strata painting companies. On a daily basis she could be responsible for doing back end maintenance on the website, organizing marketing campaigns, building videos for the website, paying suppliers and painters, collecting on outstanding invoices, ordering office supplies... just about anything that needs doing to keep the office running smoothly.

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