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When I put some sponge balls in water, why do they stick to each other and to the vessel?
Question Date: 2012-10-01
Answer 1:

There are two possible reasons for what you describe, depending on whether the balls seem sticky in the water or outside the water. If you're referring to the fact that wet things tend to be kind of 'sticky' (dust or a hair will stick to a wet surface, for example, and resist being shaken off) this is the result of the large surface tension between air and water. Water interacts very strongly with itself, so when exposed to most other objects (hair/dust/etc), the water at the surface would prefer to be in contact with the new object than the air. This is why you can see water fighting gravity by creeping up certain surfaces.

Alternatively, if you mean that the sponge balls are stickier under water than they are dry and in air, I suspect that this is likely a feature of the sponge material itself. You can do some experiments and see if they stick better to different materials under water. Try glass versus plastic, for example, and let us know what you find!

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