What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a...

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Girl-With-A-Math-Fetish
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What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a...

Postby Girl-With-A-Math-Fetish » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:31 am UTC

...chamber in space, and then swam in it?

In the sense, if you've played Super Mario Galaxy, you're well aware of what I'm talking about (those little planets that are entirely made of water except for maybe a platform, sort of like in that level that parodies Sunshine in SMG2 around where you first land). If you have some sort of chamber (in order to hold air so you can breathe) and had a 2m-3m diameter sphere of water floating in it, and then proceeded to swim in it, what would that be like? I'd assume it would be somewhat like that GoPro video taken by the ISS astronauts. I'd also assume eventually it would break apart (and reform smaller globules that you'd play with like beach balls and make surround you partially, so that it looks like you're a marble with arms, legs, and a head... what, you wouldn't do that?), because of course you'd be splashing around in it a LOT, but that aside, I'm talking about what it would be like to actually swim in it or interact with it. I'd imagine this is partially answered by the recent What-If about a moon lake and the old one (in a paragraph) about the giant raindrop, but this is entirely different--the moon has SOME gravity, which would cause a different effect than if you were weightless and such. Lets assume the walls of the chamber are completely hydrophobic and clear (yet the interior is somehow entirely habitable), in order to make things interesting, as well as have a fantastic view--because space, and because Super Mario Galaxy is amazing, especially the second one. If I could make even one little planet from that real, that'd be so fucking AWESOME. And water-world is "reasonable."

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:57 am UTC

Heck with the air, just go with a highly-oxygenated liquid that you can breathe.

As for what it’d be like—have you ever gone scuba diving? It’s already real hard to tell up from down if you don’t have visual cues (eg. lighting and bubbles). So pretty much like that, but a little more so. And if you use breathable liquid, then there won’t even be bubbles to worry about.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Girl-With-A-Math-Fetish » Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:21 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Heck with the air, just go with a highly-oxygenated liquid that you can breathe.

As for what it’d be like—have you ever gone scuba diving? It’s already real hard to tell up from down if you don’t have visual cues (eg. lighting and bubbles). So pretty much like that, but a little more so. And if you use breathable liquid, then there won’t even be bubbles to worry about.



Yes, but then we won't be able to jump out of the water like dolphins!
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Qaanol » Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:39 am UTC

Girl-With-A-Math-Fetish wrote:Yes, but then we won't be able to jump out of the water like dolphins!

That was totally not in the original design spec.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Dopefish » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:45 am UTC

Now that you mention them though, what do bubbles do in space water blobs?

I'm debating whether they stay more or less still because there's no gravity and I 'think' buoyancy is derived from gravity, but I'm second guessing myself on if there's also statistical effects and/or hydrophobic effects that would cause the bubbles to tend towards the surface even in the absence of gravity.

If they don't actually move (or at least, don't move in a non-random fashion), then I don't think bubbles in your space water bubble would help you orient yourself unless I'm missing something.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby peregrine_crow » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:13 pm UTC

Dopefish wrote:If they don't actually move (or at least, don't move in a non-random fashion), then I don't think bubbles in your space water bubble would help you orient yourself unless I'm missing something.


Well, there is no meaningful up or down in microgravity anyway so, assuming the bubbles stay in one place, you could orient yourself with respect to where you entered the water (or rather, where you first exhaled).

Also, you might be able to re-use the same pocket of air a few times, which would be both weird and cool.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jan 12, 2015 2:23 pm UTC

You should read the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton. At one point, one of the characters is caught in an artificially created environment where, somehow, there is no planet but an atmosphere and little floating islands (with artificial gravity). The purpose was for this advanced alien species to be able to perform weightless flying. They would grow some wings and then take off from one the islands and be able to fly/swim in whatever direction they wanted.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby sardia » Mon Jan 12, 2015 3:59 pm UTC

In a weightless environment, you don't need wings to fly. You can just swim through the air.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Whizbang » Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:18 pm UTC

Sure, but wings will help to push more air, and can act as sails, and allow you to change direction easier, etc.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby FancyHat » Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:12 pm UTC

sardia wrote:In a weightless environment, you don't need wings to fly. You can just swim through the air.

I seem to remember seeing something about an astronaut on Skylab doing that. I think it worked better as a bit of exercise than as a practical way of getting about the space station.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby sardia » Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:38 pm UTC

With a pair of scuba fins, you can get going at a decent clip. Its just not very agile.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Ingolifs » Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:22 am UTC

That actually sounds quite dangerous.

Here's a link to a recent occurrence where an astronaut's helmet started filling up with water.
http://www.space.com/24835-spacesuit-wa ... ation.html
While the total volume of water in the helmet was nowhere near the volume of air, the water formed small droplets and got everywhere - into his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. I'd imagine it would feel similar to being waterboarded.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Sandor » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:30 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:You should read the Commonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton.

Also worth a mention are Larry Niven's The Integral Trees and sequel The Smoke Ring, which are set in a gas torus around a neutron star of sufficient density to allow life (including humans) to survive in it. The gas is continously replenished from a gas giant. The novels feature free floating ponds of water, complete with native life swimming in them. Well worth a read, but Wikipediea notes that "this arrangement is not particularly plausible in the real world".

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Tass » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:13 pm UTC

Ingolifs wrote:That actually sounds quite dangerous.

Here's a link to a recent occurrence where an astronaut's helmet started filling up with water.
http://www.space.com/24835-spacesuit-wa ... ation.html
While the total volume of water in the helmet was nowhere near the volume of air, the water formed small droplets and got everywhere - into his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. I'd imagine it would feel similar to being waterboarded.


Yeah. Do it in a low gravity environment such as the moon, not in full zero g.

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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby Jplus » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:27 am UTC

A large volume of water in zero g would be quite scary, because the water will stick to your skin. See this youtube video with Chris Hadfield.
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Re: What would it be like to put a giant drop of water in a.

Postby drachefly » Thu Apr 16, 2015 5:54 pm UTC

This also occurs in Endymion.


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