Superphysics Superphysics

Rankine's Molecular Vortices

3 minutes  • 564 words

A perfect liquid is a fluid perfectly destitute of viscosity or fluid friction.

Helmholtz discovered the law of vortex motion in a perfect liquid.

  • This suggests that Helmholtz’s rings are the only true atoms.

Lucretius urged the idea that it is necessary to account for the unalterable distinguishing qualities of different kinds of matter.

  • Newton adopted this.

Perfect liquids that have the peculiar motion which Helmholtz calls “Wirbelbewegung”.

  • This motion has an absolutely unalterable quality.

Thus, any portion of a “Wirbelbewegung” perfect liquid has one recommendation of Lucretius’s atoms: infinitely perennial specific quality.

To generate or to destroy “Wirbelbewegung” in a perfect fluid can only be done by creative power.

Lucretius’s atom does not explain any of the properties of matter without attributing them to the atom itself.

  • This was called the “clash of atoms”.
  • His modern followers used it to account for the elasticity of gases.

Every other property of matter has similarly required an assumption of specific forces pertaining to the atom.

It is easy (and as improbable—not more so) to assume whatever specific forces may be required in any portion of matter which possesses the “Wirbelbewegung,” as in a solid indivisible piece of matter;

Hence, the Lucretius atom has no prima facie advantage over the Helmholtz atom.

There is a hypothesis that all bodies are composed of vortex atoms in a perfect homogeneous liquid.

Helmholtz witnessed a magnificent display of smoke-rings in Professor Tait’s lecture-room. It eliminated one assumption required to explain the properties of matter on vortex atoms.

Two smoke-rings were frequently seen to bound obliquely from one another. They shake violently from the effects of the shock.

The result was very similar to that observable in to large india-rubber rings striking one another in the air.

The elasticity of each smoke-ring seemed the same as what might be expected in a solid india-rubber ring of the same shape.

This kinetic elasticity of form is perfect elasticity for vortex rings in a perfect liquid. It is at least as good a beginning as the “clash of atoms” account for the elasticity of gases.

The following did beautiful investigations on the various thermodynamic properties of gases:

  • D. Bernoulli
  • Herapath
  • Joule
  • Krönig
  • Clausius
  • Maxwell

They have made positive assumptions as to the mutual forces between two atoms and kinetic energy acquired by individual atoms or molecules, satisfied by vortex rings.

They did not require any other property in the matter whose motion composes them than inertia and incompressible occupation of space.

A full mathematical investigation of

Two vortex rings of any given magnitudes and velocities that pass one another in any two lines creates mutual action between themselves. This makes them never come nearer one another than a large multiple of the diameter of either. This is a perfectly solvable mathematical problem.

Its solution will become the foundation of the proposed new kinetic theory of gases. This is exciting.

  • This can lead to a theory of elastic solids and liquids on the dynamics of more closely-packed vortex atoms.

Rankine’s paper entitled “Molecular Vortices” communicated to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1849 and 1850 was a most suggestive step in physical theory.

  • Diagrams and wire models were shown to the Society to illustrate knotted or knitted vortex atoms.
  • The endless variety of these knots is more than sufficient to explain the varieties and allotropies of known simple bodies and their mutual affinities.

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