College of Engineering Seminar: "The Ordered Dissipation of Energy in Nature"
- Friday, February 23, 2018 from 3:10pm to 4:00pm
- Roberts Hall, Room 108 - view map
An enormous quantity of energy is incoming to the Earth from the Sun. This “high-quality,” short-wavelength, energy is reemitted after dissipating throughout the earth’s environment. The quantity of outgoing energy balances the incoming solar energy. However, after dissipation, this outgoing energy is of much lower quality. This reemitted energy is longer-wavelength (infrared) energy; largely in the form of heat.
This dissipation of energy results in wind, clouds, rain and snow, ice, ocean currents, heated atmosphere, and storms. In many cases, these familiar environmental factors manifest as startlingly ordered structures or patterns. These include: highly regular cloud formations, snowflakes, stone patterns in the arctic, hurricanes, meandering rivers, beach patterns, drops from a faucet, some types of convective heat transfer, and many types of waves.
These ordered structures are often the result of a balance between ”driving forces” and “dampening forces.” This “balance” between forces results in often unexpected phenomena as the system dissipates energy.
Specifically, several examples of ordered structures will be discussed, including the physical explanation, as well as how each dissipates energy in the environment. Where available, the summary results of mathematical analyses that result in explanations and predictions of onset, size, and spacing will be presented. Finally, less well-understood dissipative structures observed in nature will be presented for future study.
Dr. Ray is the retired CEO of Ben Research in Bend, OR, and a member of the Engineering Advisory Council at MSU.