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Ripples and Waves*

Nature volume 5, pages 12 | Download Citation



YOU have always considered cohesion of water (capillary attraction) as a force which would seriously disturb such experiments as you were making, if on too small a scale. Part of its effect would be to modify the waves generated by towing your models through the water. I have often had in my mind the question of waves as affected by gravity and cohesion jointly, but have only been led to bring it to an issue by a curious phenomenon which we noticed at the surface of the water round a fishing-line one day slipping out of Oban (becalmed) at about half a mile an hour through the water. The speed was so small that the lead kept the line almost vertically downwards; so that the experimental arrangement was merely a thin straight rod held nearly vertical, and moved through smooth water at speeds from about a quarter to three-quarters of a mile per hour. I tried boat-hooks, oars, and other forms of moving solids, but they seemed to give, none of them, so good a result as the fishing-line. The small diameter of the fishing-line seemed to favour the result, and I do not think its roughness interfered much with it. I shall, however, take another opportunity of trying a smooth round rod like a pencil, kept vertical by a lead weight hanging down under water from one end, while it is held up by the other end. The fishing-line, however, without any other appliance proved amply sufficient to give very good results.

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