A little water music

We are surrounded by basic forms so much that when we create something, hard as we may work on being different, we usually get a result that is a version of an existing form.  Some of these forms are a result of physical limitations – laws affecting matter and energy defining how substance and space will interact.  Release a droplet of water from a straw and, if it has enough space to fall, it will assume a somewhat teardrop shape.  This is because a curved surface is the lowest energy state for the surface tension of a liquid substance.  Creating a square teardrop requires much more effort (and energy) than nature provides, hence the teardrop form we are used to seeing in pictures and diagrams.  It’s not that we are uncreative in portraying falling water, it’s just that’s the form the water takes.

Put enough drops in the air and they mimic the form where they came from.  The fan of water from the nozzle is circular, so the drops falling around it will assume its shape, albeit in a larger size.  From the size the spray looks triangular, but its true form is revealed by the destination of the drops.


The waves on the surface of the stream are random, parts of water grabbing wind energy as it passes over the surface.  A wave by itself looks regular and predictable; many waves interacting with each other become disorganized (at least to our eye) and uncertain.  The surface inside the circle is flattened – the circle of drops cancels the wave energy trying to enter the area of falling water.  One form interacts with another, creating a new form.  Was that the anticipated result of designing a fountain, or the unexpected benefit of its action?

A drop assumes a shape, the shape is magnified by the mass of drops, the magnified shape disrupts another shape creating a new space.  We observe the creation and transition as motion and stability happening at the same time.  And we wonder why people find fountains fascinating…


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