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wave(s) of translation


(unopened) plate (probably IX) showing a geometrical projection of a ship designed on the wave-principle, showing the manner in which the wave-lines may be rigidly preserved in combination with other points which give good qualities to a ship.

ex J. Scott Russell, The Wave-Line Principle of Ship-Construction, in Transactions of the Institution of Naval Architects I (1860); Google scan here.

Encountered whilst searching dry practical details (which phrase appears in another contribution, same volume).

John Scott Russell (1808-82, *) was a mathematically inclined shipbuilder (built the Great Eastern for Isambard Kingdom Brunel, for example). He discovered what he termed The Wave of Translation, now known by the expression solitona self-reinforcing solitary wave that maintains its shape while it travels at constant speed… caused by cancellation of nonlinear and dispersive effects in the medium.

An earlier exposition (containing beautiful figures and plates) was his Report of the Committee on Waves to the Annual Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 6 (1837-8, *), and separately published as the Report on Waves  (1845, *).

But if this subject be hard to understand, it is much harder to explain what becomes of the particles of water moved out of the way of the ship;
where they go;
how they get there;
if they ever return to their old places;
what force takes them away,
and what brings them back, if they come back;
and if they do not come back,
whence those come that replace them;
how they come there;
and how their places are in turn supplied.


20 October 2012
tags: curves; dry practical details; J. Scott Russell; soliton; waves; wave of translation