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Physically Similar Systems: a history of the concept

Sterrett, S. G. (2015) Physically Similar Systems: a history of the concept. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The concept of similar systems arose in physics, and appears to have originated with Newton in the seventeenth century. This chapter provides a critical history of the concept of physically similar systems, the twentieth century concept into which it developed. The concept was used in the nineteenth century in various fields of engineering (Froude, Bertrand, Reech), theoretical physics (van der Waals, Onnes, Lorentz, Maxwell, Boltzmann) and theoretical and experimental hydrodynamics (Stokes, Helmholtz, Reynolds, Prandtl, Rayleigh). In 1914, it was articulated in terms of ideas developed in the eighteenth century and used in nineteenth century mathematics and mechanics: equations, functions and dimensional analysis. The terminology physically similar systems was proposed for this new characterization of similar systems by the physicist Edgar Buckingham. Related work by Vaschy, Bertrand, and Riabouchinsky had appeared by then. The concept is very powerful in studying physical phenomena both theoretically and experimentally. As it is not currently part of the core curricula of STEM disciplines or philosophy of science, it is not as well known as it ought to be.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Sterrett, S. G.susangsterrett@gmail.com
Keywords: Similar Systems, Models, Experimental Models, Corresponding States, Dynamical Similarity, Mechanical Similarity, Rayleigh, Newton, Galileo, Dimensional Analysis
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Technology
Depositing User: Dr Susan G. Sterrett
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2015 14:20
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2015 14:20
Item ID: 11352
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Chemistry
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Technology
Date: 1 March 2015
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11352

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