We are all aware of the rich properties and great health benefits of olive oil, but what you might not have guessed is that olive oil has a very unique ability that is not very well known among common people.
Ben Franklin, the author, scientist, politician, inventor, freemason, diplomat and Founding Father of the United States of America, knew of this unique power. Franklin would take a teaspoon of oil and drop it in a pond with little ripples. The oil spreads rapidly over a space of several yards and produces an instant calming effect on the waves, making a good portion of the surface very smooth. He commented, “In these experiments, one circumstance struck me with particular surprise. This was the sudden, wide, and forcible spreading of a drop of oil on the face of the water, which I do not know that anybody has hitherto considered.” Back then, to a normal person it might have seemed like magic or something that was completely inexplicable, but there is an explanation to this rare occurrence.
Think about solid object – such as a rock, a pencil, a book, etc. – all of these objects are made of trillions of atoms that are completely clumped together. On the other hand, the olive oil does not clump together when it touches the water, the exact opposite happens. It spreads out into a layer that is literally one molecule thick. What happens is that the oil molecules flip onto their negatively charged heads because they are attracted to positively charged parts of the water molecules. Therefore, all the oil molecules want to touch the water and in order to make this happen, they have to spread out to a layer that is one molecule thick.
Another question remains – why do the waves nearly disappear? Usually the wind makes waves by getting traction on the surface of the water. However, when oil is spread over the surface, the wind simply drags the surface where the oil is spread to, pulling on it like a shaggy carpet and moving the big molecule in another direction.
The last question remains – how big is one molecule that comes from a circle tablespoon of olive oil that is poured in the water? The spread from this quantity oil would cover about a half acre of water. From this half acre, you’d have to cut that half acre into about 5 million circular molecules. Imagine then stacking these 5 million flat layers on top of each other in the circular tablespoon. There are 5 million layers in about 1 cm. Therefore, one layer, or molecule amounts to about one five-millionth of a centimeter.
The eye-opening experiment was done on a PBS program title Lake vs. 1 tbsp of Olive Oil.