There’s nothing like a good, practical physics experiment to get the mind thinking about the laws of reality. (Or our simulation of reality. Potato potahto.) YouTube channel The Action Lab provides a good reminder of that with a new test of the “world’s longest” straw. A test that involves sucking liquid with the strength of bizarro Poseidon.
In the video above, which comes via Laughing Squid, the channel’s host shows what happens when somebody drinks from a straw that’s more than 34 feet long. That’s longer than the theoretical maximum for a functional straw that can pull liquid up to its top opening.
To perform the quasi physics-defying experiment, The Action Lab host goes to—where else?—a parking garage. There, he drops a dangling plastic “straw” (it’s a tube) down the center of a stairway shaft and proceeds to test it from multiple heights.
The Action Lab
As for good old-fashioned human-sucking power, the host is able to draw liquid 14 feet up the straw on his own; using, as he notes, his mouth muscles far more than his lungs for maximum vacuum. He then hooks up a mechanical vacuum pump to the business end of the straw, and that’s where things get interesting.
As the channel’s host notes, there is indeed a maximum drinking height; a.k.a. a “maximum suction lift” that’s possible. This is due to the fact that as the water column in the straw grows taller, it grows heavier. And at a certain point, even with a perfect vacuum, the liquid is no longer able to move upward; the column’s simply too heavy for the force from the straw’s liquid source to push it any further.
The Action Lab
The Action Lab shows, however, how somebody can bypass this theoretical limit. To do so, all one needs to do is suck so hard on the liquid in any particular tube so that it boils. The water vapor will then bounce around, and, apparently, send squirts of water higher up the straw than they’d otherwise go. Which, of course, is just another strange display of the way the laws of physics work in this reality. And perhaps some of the new realities we’re making too.
Feature image: The Action Lab