Monday, January 24, 2011

A Correction To The Definition Of "Siphon" Is Itself Incorrect?

Oh, this is turning into a comedy act!

If you recall, several months ago, a physicist in Australia spotted an error in Oxford Dictionary on the meaning of the word "siphon". The news of this discovery made minor headlines, especially on the web. The physicist offered an explanation of the effect.

Well, it turns out that that explanation itself may be incorrect, as presented by a professor and his student from the University of Hawaii at Hilo!

Dr. Stephen Hughes of Queensland University of Technology proposed that the unnatural upward flow of fluid that occurs within a siphon is caused by the difference in weight between the longer and shorter portions of fluid chains that move through the device. Binder and Richert surveyed historical siphon demonstrations and designed and performed several critical experiments.

In one of their setups, they managed to make water flow up the longer leg of a siphon and down the shorter one. They concluded that fluid flows up due to a higher pressure at the siphon entrance than at the bend, and upon reaching the bend the fluid is pulled down by gravity. The Hilo-based researchers have proposed a more precise dictionary definition that acknowledges both pressure and gravity as essential ingredients of the siphon mechanism but does not mention fluid chains or leg lengths.

Binder, an established researcher in the fields of chaos and complex systems, says that “nature has had her final word” through the outcomes of the experiments he and his student ran. He also remarks that the original story was quite appealing, and spread like fire through cyberspace with relatively little scrutiny: “it’s not true just because you read it on the web.”

That press release also gives you a link to get the actual article.

OK, let's see who is going to bid higher next time?! :)


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