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Huygen's Principle compares diffraction to ripples in water. Do the similarities translate to surface tension? The hydrophobic effect?

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The principle is based solely on the wave nature of light. Surface tension and the hydrophobic effect are related to the interface of the water with some other medium. In the case of light the equivalent would arise when considering the behavior of light at a boundary: for instance a conductor (fixed interface) or a plasma (free interface).

In particular in this second case the plasma dynamics could perhaps mimic the conditions you have at an interface between water and another fluid (air). Surface tension is a heavily static concept though, so in the case of lightwaves and some plasma you could hope more to find the equivalent of the system sea-surface+air, or water and seafloor.

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  • $\begingroup$ static concept? I thought that surface tension created a sort of elastic band on the surface of moderately disturbed bodies of water. Ah, but the molecules at the surface can't switch out for others? $\endgroup$ – user608252 Apr 9 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, this sort of elastic resulting force is also responsible for ripples. But as you said it must be a moderate excitation, which means that it happens on time scales much larger than the time scale coordinating the surface tension (i.e. how fast surface tension propagates). This is what I was referring to: the surface tension "only cares" about the instantaneous configuration of the water. $\endgroup$ – AoZora Apr 10 at 21:49

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