Monday, 7 January 2013

Lord of the Rings

This post is misleading.  By Lord of the Rings it should be Lord Raleigh and the surface tension of Du-Nuoy rings.  (The hate mail by angry nerds is already flowing.  Bring it on.....).  When we think about surface tension we take it for granted that people like Benjamin Franklin, Laplace, Raleigh, Du-Nuoy, Padday among other scientists did such awesome things from invented great instruments to doing experiments to increase our knowledge of this peculiar physical property.  So I will take a little bit of time explaining who these people were and what contribution they made to surface tension.

Lord Raleigh

John Strutt was a physicist that inherited the Lord of Raleigh upon the death of his father.  He was a real Lord in this place in Raleigh, England (not North Carolina thankfully) and inherited the title upon his father's death.  The Baron state sits in Essex.  As you likely know the monarchy still exists in England and nobles are still passed on from generation to generation.  The Lord Raleigh's estate is currently held by 4th Baron of Raleigh John Strutt which is is the .

John Strutt was educated Essex and then later at the University of Cambridge in 1861 to study Mathematics.  He obtained his Masters of Arts degree in 1868 and was elected to the Fellowship of Trinity which he gave up when he became a lord.  Prestigious English schools aside the real greatness comes from Lord Raleigh's many achievements in physics like understanding why the sky is blue (Raleigh scattering), finding the element argon and understanding sound waves.      He later received a Nobel prize for his discovery of argon.

Lord Rayleigh was elected Fellow of the Royal Society on 12 June 1873, and served as president of the Royal Society from 1905 to 1908.  His fondness for science encouraged and helped others to continue in science like Angnes Pockels who created published with Raleigh the first paper on Surface Tension in the Journal Nature.

Although pure academics like Lord Raleigh are important it is always good to apply these principles to the world around us with a little bit of engineering of instrumentation.  Pierre Du Nuöy provided this with his invention for an apparatus to measure the surface tension force on a solution.

Pierre Du Nuöy

The du Noüy ring method is one technique by which the surface tension of a liquid can be measured. The method involves slowly lifting a ring, often made of platinum, from the surface of a liquid. The force required to raise the ring from the liquid's surface is measured and related to the liquid's surface tension.  This technique was proposed by the French physicist Pierre Lecomte du Noüy (1883–1947) in a paper published in 1925.   His life is better told by himself as published in one of his books. 

 "Dr. Lecomte du Nouy is an internationally known French scientist. He was born in Paris in 1883, was educated at the Sorbonne and the faculty of Law. He now holds the degrees of LL.B., Ph.B., Sc.B., Ph.D., and Sc.D. In 1915, Dr. du Nouy, then an officer in the French Army, met Dr. Alexis Carrel, and through him became interested in certain problems that appeared to have no solution. His work in developing a mathematical expression of the process of healing of wounds brought him to the attention of the Rockefeller Institute. From 1920 to 1927, as an associate member of that Institute, Dr. du Nouy carried on his research into the properties of the blood. An instrument that he invented brought him an award from the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia. In 1927 he returned to Paris. Until 1937 he acted as head of the important Bio-Physics division of the Pasteur Institute. In that year he was named a director of the `Ecole de Hautes Etudes' at the Sorbonne. He and his American wife, the former Mary Bishop Harriman, lived in Paris under Nazi domination in the early days of the war, but escaped to the United States in August, 1942, to carry on his work. In the course of his full life, Dr. du Nouy has studied with Sir William Ramsay, and with Pierre and Mme. Curie. He has published some two hundred papers, mostly technical, and seven books on his researches and his philosophy of science. One of these, L'Avenir de L'Esprit, ran to twenty-two editions in France in 1942 and was awarded a prize by the French Academy. Today Dr. du Nouy is known and respected by scientists of every land. In 1944 this respect was signalized by the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, when he was awarded the Arnold Reymond Prize, for his three books Le Temps et la Vie, L'Homme devant la Science, and L'Avenir de L'Esprit, as the most important contribution to scientific philosophy in the past ten years."

Not a Kibron Instrument

One of the great things with the invention of the Du Nouy ring is that it allowed people everywhere to measure the surface tension of various fluids and compare this information to someone else in the world using the same instrument.  Kibron does the same (although a little easier) using the Du Nouy Padday method in all of their devices.  This allows people to use our instrument in London and compare the results with their colleauges using the same instrument in Lexington with great confidence.