The Magic Trick

by Deb on August 11, 2011

Post image for The Magic Trick

We were cleaning up various bits of paint, coloured water and containers outside when we decided to do a magic trick and move water from one container to another without pouring or touching it! You can see the setup, two containers, the higher one with water and a twisted up serviette joining them.

It took a while to get going, but the girls kept racing back to check. Following the faint line of the water creeping through the serviette, a gentle finger to see if it feels wet.


Abraca-shizzlepop! A few drips and a flurry of excitement – It made it! The water got through!


And it’s there, slowly but reliably gliding down the serviette and over to the other side.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Pea August 12, 2011 at 5:45 am

That’s a cute magic trick. But what’s the logic behind this trick?


Deb August 12, 2011 at 11:08 am

It’s based on something called capillary action. Basically when you get to a small enough scale, surface forces become more important than gravity. This is how insects walk on the ceiling – the surface attraction between their feet and the ceiling is stronger than gravity pulling them down. With very thin tubes or the fibres in the paper serviette, the surface tension acting on the liquid water and adhesion with the paper pulls it up more strongly than gravity pulls it down. This is the same action as in the Water Daisies we made a few weeks ago, or in the wick of a candle.


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