(Inside Science) — “When a drop of liquid hits a solid surface, the liquid will do one of two things: flatten like a pancake or launch a halo of droplets into the air. It’s a surprisingly complex and difficult-to-predict event.
The secret is in the air. By taking into account the gas surrounding the drop, researchers find that they can calculate just how fast a drop can travel without splattering when it hits. A new study suggests that after the drop strikes a solid surface, a tiny cushion of air carries along its edge as it spreads. The air provides lift like on an airplane wing and flings away droplets from the drop’s edge.”