Formation of Rain Drops

Nature’s wonder begin with the tiniest raindrop.  Watching how they slide slide down your window pane can become an interesting past time. Learning how they form, how they change into snow flakes, sleet, freeze into rain, and back gain into rain drops, is excellent reading. To observe them in actions and to see how they form their raindrop shape, the next time it rains see for yourself how fast or how slow they gravitate downward and how a larger one, overtaking a smaller one, gobbles it up as it moves on down. 

They do seem to have an affinity for each other probably attracted by some particle peculiar to one over the other. While you watch your window pain will become a visual art form. The most interesting time to rain drop watch is when the rain stops splattering and the trickle ceases to flow and several lone drops make the downward journey. The gravity pull is down due to their weight. Also, since they are of the same molecules when one gets near another they merge.

How do rain drops form? To get that answer I checked out the “Proceedings”, a national Academy of Sciences published study done by Mikael Oliveberg and Linda Hedberg at Umea University. They say the whole procedure is a little more complicated than having a few water molecules congregate and forming themselves into the teardrop shape. Before this can happen, a whole bunch of molecules, at least a hundred or more is needed. These researchers believe they form pretty much in the same way that human cells are built. At least in their shape. 

Precision is needed to make sure a raindrop is formed. All of the molecules must act as one when joining together. These researchers believe there is a similarity between how protein cells are built – the so-called building blocks of the body – and the way tear drops are formed. It is the way proteins form that clue them in on how the raindrops get their shape; both need to instantaneously fold to a globular form.

This interesting side role that rain drops play in their medical research was not sought but was an incidental occurrence that answers many questions for them. It puts them steps ahead when looking for ways to better understand how cells go wrong when first formed and how these relate to various inherited disease processes. How then do raindrops get their globular shape? Do they assume this shape when they fall? No, not so say the experts. When they fall they flatten out. When we see them on the window pane, as an example, it is gravity that gives them that shape.

Shapes vary according to their size, say Kenneth V. Beard, an Illinois meteorologist working with the Illinois State Water Survey and a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbina-Champaign. Drizzling rain has a different shape and is rounder than a heavier falling rain drop. It’s the weight that forms the shape.

A large raindrop is flattened in appearance as it falls. And too, their shape is contingent on many factors and this allows them to can change their shape as they fall. These “oscillations” are due to the force of the wind and other atmospheric conditions. The large drops fall faster than the smaller ones and in their path they collect the smaller ones; thus gaining in weight and speed.

Tear drops, the human body’s answer to the fall of rain, by comparison may oftentimes be a lonely little tear drop on a cheek, but atmospheric raindrops have no such privacy. They fall where they fall when atmospheric conditions can no longer contain them far above the earth. The shape is actually irrelevant, that dab of water is simply reacting to the forces of nature. A lonely raindrop has no identity whatsoever. In seconds it becomes part or less of another raindrop.

The whole process of rain is made up of many factors: When mists such as clouds become too heavy the multitude of rain drops fall. Then the cycle begins again when the sun draws the water into the atmosphere and then upward where accumulations form clouds. The raindrops remain there until the force of gravity pulls them toward earth. The basic makeup of water (H2O) does not change; what changes is the additives it collects on its journey downard. It can bring along harmful chemicals that can damage trees and erase much needed calcium from soils.