What is Capillary Attraction?

There is a peculiar property in liquids, which deserves attention, and should be understood, and that is the name given to the tendency of liquids to rise in fine tubes.

It is stated that water will always find its level. While this is true, we have an instance where, owing to the presence of a solid, made in a peculiar form, causes the liquid, within, to rise up far beyond the level of the water.

This may be illustrated by three tubes of different internal diameters. The liquid rises up higher in the second than in the first, and still higher in the third than in the second. The smaller the tube the greater the height of the liquid.

This is called capillary attraction, the word capillary meaning a hair. The phenomena is best observed when seen in tubes which are as fine as hairs. The liquid has an affinity for the metal, and creeps up the inside, and the distance it will thus move depends on the size of the tube.

Excerpt from:
Title: Practical Mechanics for Boys
Author: J. S. Zerbe

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