I understand that water molecules at the surface have a net inward attraction due to the lack of water molecules above them. I've been reading a bunch of articles, and they say that this inward pull causes water to act as if the surface is covered by a thin, elastic material, but what does that mean?
Is surface tension caused only by the attraction between the water molecules on the surface to other water molecules on the surface? If so, why is surface tension said to be caused by the inward pull; if not, then what role does the attraction to the molecules underneath the surface play in surface tension?
If an intruder molecule were attempting to puncture the water surface, how would the water molecules around it behave in order to keep it floating?