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We are all familiar with the term splash. It’s when something gets everywhere, especially somewhere that it is not expected. Perhaps we use it to say there is a “splash” of color when someone puts a bright object on a dull surface. Or we think of a splash or a spray of flowers.

But most of us, when we hear the word, think first of water.

Here, a splash is when something causes the water to explode beyond its boundaries, escape gravity and containment, and go unexpectedly, happily, someplace it was not anticipated to be.

But how and why do splashes happen? What is a splash from the scientific perspective?

Well, it is a lot more than a cannonball into a pool – or is it?

A splash, in technical terms

Water is relatively heavy and it wants to be drawn down toward the center of the earth. Gravity is water’s first master, and water really must listen to it whenever it can.

That said, water WANTS to stay in the glass, or the pool, or the pond.  But sometimes something happens that it can’t control.

In many cases, a person has landed on it from above, and water must go rushing away.

First, the dropping person, or even dropping water, pushes a thin wall of air against the water. The body of water attempts to “push back” or, more accurately, it attempts to stay right where it is, thank you very much!

But, in the case of any object larger than a small raindrop in mist, the water fails to hold it up. The air that was trying to force the object up now helps compress the water below it, which suddenly starts to look for a new place to go.

That water escaping from below this wave of compressed air is the splash.

Directing your splash

Of course managing your splash is the primary courteous consideration of sharing a swimming pool. Some people near the pool are trying to warm up or dry off or sun bathe and don’t want to get wet. If they wanted to get wet they would be in the water.

And of course that means sometimes if you just want to get in the water you are cautious about your splash and you jump in far away from them

However sometimes the whole point is to get more people wet. In that case you should try to put all of your mass into one ball by curling your arms around your knees in midair, and landing as solidly as possible on or near your lower back.

That should do it. A big round splash for all to enjoy, or “enjoy.”

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