Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Adhesion and Cohesion

Adhesion vs Cohesion

In Science, particularly Chemistry and Physics, there are a lot of technicalities discussed that are very applicable to man’s life. These subjects often explain why certain phenomena occur in everyday living. With regard to the naturally occurring forces, adhesion and cohesion are often confused with each other.

Although these terms sound the same, they are actually the opposite ends of the same coin. Basically, adhesion is the attraction shared between several dissimilar molecules. It is then the joining of different forms of matter. Cohesion, on the contrary, is the force of attraction between similar molecules. It is simply the force that holds all molecules of one type of matter or object altogether.

It is best to explain these forces using the unique properties of water. As a liquid form of matter, water is composed of several molecules that are not that loosely packed from each other as compared to gas. Also, water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The molecules of water carry two charges (a positive and a negative one) making it a dipole. The electrons, that carries the negative charge clump near oxygen and at the same time distancing itself from hydrogen. As a result, one negative end of the water molecules will bind together with another positive end which gives its cohesive characteristic.

In practical application, you will not be surprised why water falls as rain (or raindrops) and not in the form of individual molecules. On hydrophobic surfaces (i.e. waxed surfaces of the car or floor) and similar areas, water gathers like beads because of this property. Water molecules just pull together towards each other.

Once again because of the water bearing two different charges, it still has another ability ‘“ to get attracted to other surfaces or molecules that carry different charges. This is when adhesion sets in. if you dip a piece of paper on a basin filled with water, you will notice that it (the paper) will slowly become wet going up from the point of contact with water. This happens even with the natural action of gravity because the adhesion forces of the paper molecules are strong enough to attract the differing charges of the water molecules.

Both adhesion and cohesion forces vary in strength. For example, if the cohesion force of the water molecules is stronger than any other adhesion forces surrounding them then its individual molecules will stick toward each other resulting to clumping or settling. In cases where the adhesion forces of other matter or surfaces are stronger than the cohesion force of the water molecules, then the water will get dispersed.

1. Adhesion is the molecule attraction between dissimilar molecules.

2. Cohesion is the molecular attraction between similar types of molecules.


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2 Comments

  1. Typically when we use terms such as molecular adhesion amd cohesion we, naturally, are thinking with internal vision of the microscopic. With that in mind, if with think of those terms with internal visions of the macroscopic, are we seeing what we call gravity?
    It would seem to me the with all of the concentrated efforts aimed at unifying theories of everything, that, when we are exploring our solar system within our galaxy, within our universe or, what most just call “outer space,” (what I call the macroscopic realm) we are not utilizing internal visions of the biological in the same way we do when we explore the microscopic realm.
    I propose that what we are is the smallest part of something way larger than we could every imagine, while in the exact same instant of time, we are the largest part of something way smaller than we could every imagine. A “microscopic macroscopic continuum.” That the actions of molecular adhesion and cohesion are one and the same as what we call gravity and electromagnatism.
    If you would imagine two funnels with the smaller ends touching each other, making both funnels as one. But, in this case that small part in the middle goes to a smallness that is as small as the largeness of the universe that encompasses the two funnels.
    Imagine – An elderly person going for a doctor visit and the doctor suggests to the patient that they consider an iron suppliment to their regular diet which the elderly person follows trough with and takes the iron suppliment dialy. Now, turn your gaze outwards, towards space. There! Do you see it? A chunk of iron 5 miles accross, hurling through space faster than a bullet moving striaght at Earth. We know what will happen when it strike the Earth head on. But what happens in the eldrly persons bodies when it they take the iron suppliment with the diet? And when we look farther into the microscopic realm? And farther” How far can we go? The Quark would seem to be the limit, for now. We as well as other creature om Earth have an iron based hemoglobin. Our Earth as well as other planetary bodies have and iron core. When a Sun has converted all of its mass to the most basic element whats is the last element left? Iron.
    We but so much effort into looking for life elsewhere in our universe when our universe itself is alive!
    Microscopic Macroscopic Continuum.

  2. Yeah,that’s so true!!:)

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