Letter | Published:

‘Seizure’ with Sliding Surfaces


IN his letter to NATURE on “The Polishing of Surfaces” (Feb. 19) Mr. N. K. Adam refers to Hardy's work on static friction, showing the tearing away of surface particles of glass when one glass surface slides over another glass surface. In a leading article, Engineering (Jan. 23, 1925) emphasises the difficulty in understanding how forces of cohesion, exerted through surface layers, can ever be great enough to overcome the forces of cohesion between a particle of glass on the surface and the particles of glass immediately below the surface, in order that a scratch may result. The writer in Engineering, as an alternative explanation, has recourse to ideas with regard to friction which Prof. Muir tells me were described so long ago as 1776 by Oliver Goldsmith in his “Survey of Experimental Philosophy”: “The little risings in one body stick themselves into the small cavities of the other in the same manner as the hairs of a brush run into the irregularities of the coat while it is brushing. If the bodies slide one over the other, the little risings of one body in some measure tear or are torn by the opposite depressions.”

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