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Dec 3, 2019

Student Solves Physics Mystery That Has Puzzled Scientists for 100 Years

Posted by in category: physics

An École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) Bachelor’s student has solved a mystery that has puzzled scientists for 100 years. He discovered why gas bubbles in narrow vertical tubes seem to remain stuck instead of rising upwards. According to his research and observations, an ultra-thin film of liquid forms around the bubble, preventing it from rising freely. And he found that, in fact, the bubbles are not stuck at all – they are just moving very, very slowly.

Air bubbles in a glass of water float freely up to the surface, and the mechanisms behind this are easily explained by the basic laws of science. However, the same laws of science cannot explain why air bubbles in a tube a few millimeters thick don’t rise the same way.

Physicists first observed this phenomenon nearly a century ago, but couldn’t come up with an explanation – in theory, the bubbles shouldn’t encounter any resistance unless the fluid is in motion; thus a stuck bubble should encounter no resistance.

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