Watch Boats Sail Upside-Down on an Ocean of Levitating Liquid

By: | September 8th, 2020

Credit: Benjamin Apffel et al., Nature.

A team of French scientists has proved that it is possible to float boats on both the top and underside of a suspended fluid. This “seemingly impossible” discovery changes our understanding of buoyancy on its head. 

Emmanuel Fort, a co-author of a paper, said, “That was a fun experiment,” “Everything worked well. And I’m still amazed by the results.”

This counter-intuitive behavior is created by using constant vibrations

These vibrations result in changing the forces acting on the floating object. Vibrations compress the air below the fluid, preventing it from falling to the bottom. This way researcher managed to “levitate” almost half a quart of liquid.

Fort said, “If you move the boat down in the air it will fall, and if you move it up, it will go up to the interface,”

“The whole trick is not only to make the situation possible in the first place, but to stabilize the equilibrium.”

Researchers claim that reverse-buoyancy might have plenty of practical uses

Like keeping gases suspended in fluids for industrial purposes, transporting materials through fluids, mineral processing, and separating pollutants from water.

Ford said, “People say it’s like the scene in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ when the boat floats upside down,” 

“It’s counterintuitive. It gets people talking about science fiction and fantasy and that is very nice.”


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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