Surface Tension :: Fluids in space
"Surface tension in liquids is simply the interactions between the molecules of a liquid. The molecules at the surface do not have other like molecules on all sides of them and consequently they cohere more strongly to those directly associated with them on the surface which forms a surface "film". The net effect is an inward force at its surface that causes the liquid to behave as if its surface were covered with a stretched elastic membrane."
produced by: Daniel Gábana Arellano
Inspiration and motivation
'Surface Tension' is the first work in my series 'Fluids in space', which is inspired by the behaviour of fluids in a zero gravity environment such as space. Since this phenomena is difficult to achieve on Earth for obvious reasons, this work attempts to faithfully reproduce in a virtual environment the experience of how it would be to manipulate liquids in the absence of gravity.
While the aim of this project was to reproduce real fluids dynamics in a 3D virtual world, the capabilties of the computer used and OpenFrameworks are not powerful enough to reproduce real-time fluids dynamics. In order to produce the most realistic effect possible, I realised I must leave aside the computation of fluids dynamics and instead create a realisation of 3D bubbles that appear to be moving through space.
What is surface tension?
The phenomena of surface tension in liquids is explained as 'simply the attractive interactions between the molecules of a liquid'. The molecules behavior is to group closely together with other molecules on their sides, an arrangement which requires the least energy. When a drop of liquid is released in a zero gravity environment, surface tension is created as molecules arrange themselves in a sphere shape that minimizes the overall surface energy of the liquid and gives the appearance of having a film on the top of it. A sphere shape is the result owing to the fact that this shape has the minimum surface area and minimum surface energy due to its symmetry in all directions.
As we know, surface tension also exists on Earth and is very important for life and relevant in modern technologies such as raincoats or car wax. Without surface tension, even the smallest objects would sink underwater as they would be more permeable. For example, large particles such as dust or debris would not float on the water, instead sinking to the bottom where they would have the potential to disturb or even collapse the marine ecosystem.
However, the software and hardware capabilities available to me did limit my work. My compture hardware was not fast enough to fluently process the code, sometimes resulting in slow processing and rendering. This also limited the functionality of OpenFrameworks as it would crash if too many soft bodies were processed or manipulated simultaneously.
Surface Tension definitions:
OpenFrameworks addons used: