Scientists: Raindrops Aren't Shaped Like Tears at All
They actually resemble hamburger bun tops
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2014 6:39 AM CST
Updated Feb 13, 2014 6:50 AM CST
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(Newser) – It turns out you've been drawing raindrops incorrectly your entire life. NASA scientists have determined that they don't actually resemble tears. They look more like hamburger bun tops: rounded above, flat on the bottom. As a video made by NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement explains, a raindrop begins its life in a ball-like shape due to the surface tension, or "skin," of the water molecules. As it grows it gets heavier and starts to fall, and can then collide and combine with other drops, growing in size. This larger drop picks up speed, and is met with wind resistance from below that alters its shape, morphing it into the bun.

The shape-shifting doesn't stop there. Bigger raindrops, defined by the Telegraph as measuring three-sixteenths of an inch, take on a parachute-like or kidney-bean-like appearance as they continue to fall; the surface tension of a drop eventually can't keep it together, and it splinters into two. According to NASA associate research scientist Chris Kidd, the find has implications that go well beyond your kid's next art project. That's because "if you can see the shape of the raindrop you can extrapolate whether a storm is increasing in its intensity or decaying," he says, in what he calls "'nowcasting'—forecasting the weather for the next 30 to 60 minutes." That information could be used to better inform pilots traveling in storms, or communities experiencing flooding. (Click to read about another discovery that will alter what you've believed since you were a child about crocodiles.)

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Showing 3 of 34 comments
BarackMustGo
Feb 13, 2014 2:15 PM CST
It only cost we tax payers $6 billion to prove we were wrong, all along. Do you know how many businesses will now have to change (correct) their logo, stationary, etc.........and in these desperate times.
OrneryPup
Feb 13, 2014 11:55 AM CST
Come look Ma, it's raining hamburger buns and kidney beans!
tonytonedeaf
Feb 13, 2014 10:26 AM CST
Its all obamas fault he has a guvmnt agency that uses a neutron xray device which forces raindrops to change their shape against their will, that way we will look the other way when he declares himself king..there all fixed.