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Physics of Writing



This blog is in reaction to an experiment conducted recently by a team of scientists from South Korea led by Ho-Young Kim. It essentially was created to explain the physics of writing, something the human race has been wondering for well over five thousand years since scripture came into the world.

The team concluded that the smaller cavities in paper have a greater capillary pull than the wider tube of the pen, but very small pores also restrict the flow of the ink. As long as the pores in the material are not wider than the opening in the minimal pen, rougher materials pull ink more quickly. This also explains why it is so difficult to write in pen on a piece of glass – without pores, the surface cannot draw ink. In contrast, wider pens have less capillary force, so they give up the ink more easily. While this explains the medium, one must also wonder about the ink that we see on said paper in most cases. In short, higher surface tension allows it to wet the paper or pillar array more effectively, while higher viscosity slows it down. This is actually surprisingly not what we had expected or what past experiments had concluded, for in those tests pores had little to nothing to do with the final results. So next time you get one of those pesky writing cramps in school, dont be sad!! Writing is a lot of work!


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