Science, even though it is extremely interesting and tempting to follow, has one particular flaw – it is often boring. If science was all explosions and excitement, it would go into Mythbusters territory. But before anything exciting can happen, plenty of research has to be done first. Moreover, even the experiment itself is boring is some situations.
While some researchers prefer to base their work on something they can actually geek over (being particularly excited about something), others have more patience and other things to do with their lives. In a study from the University of Surrey in collaboration with Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, scientists literally watch paint dry for innovation.
One question – Why?
By using both computer simulations and material experiments, the team of researchers wanted to find out exactly how paint manifests as it dries. As paint starts drying, small, microscopic particles work together and push the larger particles away. The former remain at the surface, while the latter are pushed toward the bottom.
The same works for ink, paint, any many other substances that share a similar texture. Finding out exactly how the drying of paint happens, the team could use the data to create and improve things like sunscreen, or even paint itself.
For example, the particles in sunscreen can be modified so that those responsible for blocking sunlight push their way to the surface, while those on the bottom would better adhere to the skin. Of course, this takes place at microscopic levels, about 1,000 smaller than the width of a human hair.
Further studies will be performed in order to better understand the process and to learn how to manipulate the small and the large paint particles. The findings can be applied to inks, adhesives, paints, pharmaceuticals, and even in cosmetics.
The answer to the Universe
Well no, watching paint dry doesn’t exactly reveal the answer to the Universe, but it does, surprisingly, offer some answers. As it dries, paint creates tension throughout the entire system. As it cracks, that built-up tension is relieved.
As this happens, structures both large and small are formed from the cracking paint. This process is in fact hierarchical, following a pattern known as constructal law. This process can in fact be used to explain the difference in size between the multitude of astral bodies throughout the Universe.
Image source: Flickr