Everyone knows how the surface of a spinning bucket of water would look like on earth - parabolic. But what if we turned off gravity (for instance by doing the experiment in a freely falling lift)? Would the surface be still parabolic? I'll explain my confusion in more detail.
The velocity of the spinning bucket is transferred to the water by means of frictional forces arising in the boundary between the bucket and water. But these frictional forces exist no matter whether there is gravity or not. So if I consider the whole bulk of water inside the bucket as a single system, this frictional force would give it a positive torque. Thus the water has to rotate. For the sustained rotation of water, a centripetal force has to exist. In normal gravity, the water surface changes its shape into a paraboloid so that there is a net force on any particle directed inward. But in free fall, there is no pressure on a particle inside the liquid. Thus the only force that can supply the centripetal acceleration is inter-molecular force between the particles which is weak to sustain huge velocities. So what exactly happens?