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(33,621 posts)
Sat Apr 28, 2018, 04:09 PM Apr 2018

I just stumbled into a very old paper by "Lord Rayleigh" contemplating water boiling in a pot. [View all]

John William Strutt, the 3rd Baron Rayleigh, commonly known as "Lord Rayleigh," was the winner of the 1904 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the gas Argon, which is now a very important gas with tremendous industrial application. (It is about 1% of air, by mass, but since it is non-reactive and colorless, no one before Rayleigh realized it was there. His discovery was actually incredible and relied on appreciation of very small differences in highly precise measurements of the density of nitrogen.)

"Lord Rayleigh" also discovered why the sky is blue, an effect to this day known as "Rayleigh scattering."

Recently I have been considering, in connection with understanding the physics of liquid plutonium, the physics of bubbles, a subject about which I know very little, when I came across a paper in one of my favorite journals. The paper is this one: New Modeling Strategies Evaluate Bubble Growth in Systems of Finite Extent: Energy and Environment Implications (Chatzis et al, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res., 2018, 57 (16), pp 5680–5689)

While this paper was partially about a subject I rather despise but still study (since one must know the enemy), the chemistry and physics of dangerous fossil fuels, I was inspired to go to the references and encountered a paper from the early 20th century, one by Lord Rayleigh.

Lord Rayleigh, O. M. F. R. S., VIII. On the Pressure Developed in a Liquid During the Collapse of a Spherical Cavity. London Edinb. Dubl. Philos. Mag. 1917, 34, 94– 98, DOI: 10.1080/14786440808635681

I quote:

WHEN reading O. Reynolds's description of the sounds emitted by water in a kettle as it comes to the boil, and their explanation as duo to the partial or complete collapse of bubbles as they rise through cooler water, I proposed to myself a further consideration of the problem thus presented; but I had not gone far when I learned from Sir C. Parsons that he also was interested in the same question in connexion with cavitation behind screw-propellers, and that at his instigation Mr. S. Cook, on the basis of an investigation by Besant, had calculated the pressure developed when the collapse is suddenly arrested by impact against a rigid concentric obstacle. During the collapse the fluid is regarded as incompressible. In the present note I have given a simpler derivation of Besant's results, and have extended the calculation to find the pressure in the interior of the fluid during the collapse. It appears that before the cavity is closed these pressures may rise very high in the fluid near the inner boundary.

How beautiful is that?!!!

One of the world's greatest scientists stopping, at the height of his fame, to wonder about what happens to bubbles when water boils.

Of course that's probably very much connected with why he was a great scientist, because even bubbles and the sounds they made interested him.

This struck me as very wonderful, and I thought I'd write it down.

I hope you're having a pleasant weekend. This little find has made mine.
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