How Do Surface Waves Behave in an Ocean of Oil?

In summary, the conversation focused on the physical behavior of surface waves in an oil-based ocean. The participants discussed their theories and speculations on how oil waves would behave compared to regular water waves. Anecdotes were shared about using oil to calm waves and how this was demonstrated by Ben Franklin in France. The conversation also touched on the factors that affect wave speed and how it may not be directly related to fluid density. In the end, it was suggested to consult a physics textbook or do a Google search for more accurate information.
  • #1
lewdtenant
63
1
I'm interested in the physical behavior of surface waves in an oil-based ocean.

Suppose, if you will, an ocean created of crude oil. How would its waves behave in relation to our own oceans' waves?

I think oil waves would be slower and lower in height, but how much slower and lower I don't know. I'm sure there are other characteristics to consider as well. Care to speculate?
 
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  • #2
(1) Get a house fan
(2) Get a cat liter box
(3) Fill said box with water. Turn on fan. Take Picture
(4) Empty box, and refill with motor oil. Turn on fan, take picture.
(5) Using a funnel, put motor oil back into the container for use in your car when in need of top off.

(6) Post pictures here.
 
  • #3
...but I'm a theorist...

ok I thought of doing an experiment myself... i guess i have to now
 
  • #4
Slightly off topic anecdote:

When Ben Franklin was a diplomat to France, once he was walking close to a body of water with two Frenchmen on a windy day. Always having a keen sense of humor and an interest in science he told the Frenchmen to step back, he was going to calm the waters. Franklin was carrying a hollow cane he had filled with oil beforehand. He unstoppered the cane and waved it over the water and behold, the waters were calmed. The Frenchmen were duly impressed.
 
  • #5
skeptic2 said:
Slightly off topic anecdote:

When Ben Franklin was a diplomat to France, once he was walking close to a body of water with two Frenchmen on a windy day. Always having a keen sense of humor and an interest in science he told the Frenchmen to step back, he was going to calm the waters. Franklin was carrying a hollow cane he had filled with oil beforehand. He unstoppered the cane and waved it over the water and behold, the waters were calmed. The Frenchmen were duly impressed.

Hahahha! That Franklin guy was a clever. I would expect nothing less from him!
 
  • #6
skeptic2 said:
Slightly off topic anecdote:

When Ben Franklin was a diplomat to France, once he was walking close to a body of water with two Frenchmen on a windy day. Always having a keen sense of humor and an interest in science he told the Frenchmen to step back, he was going to calm the waters. Franklin was carrying a hollow cane he had filled with oil beforehand. He unstoppered the cane and waved it over the water and behold, the waters were calmed. The Frenchmen were duly impressed.

OK...so who walks around with a hollowed-out cane filled with oil?
 
  • #7
lewdtenant said:
I think oil waves would be slower and lower in height, but how much slower and lower I don't know. I'm sure there are other characteristics to consider as well. Care to speculate?

Grade 11 high school physics book should have the qualitative answer.
Google might provide some quantitative data.
 
  • #8
rootX said:
Grade 11 high school physics book should have the qualitative answer.
Google might provide some quantitative data.

My freshman undergraduate physics textbook doesn't have the answer, so why would a grade 11 physics book have it?

Surface roughness is a complex phenomenon that depends on many things, including the surface under the water. The water has ripples and waves in different parts of the lake due to different ground textures.

You could also test this in your litter box. Fill it with water and turn on the fan. Then fill the bottom with gravel and repeat. You will get a different wave pattern.
 
  • #9
lisab said:
OK...so who walks around with a hollowed-out cane filled with oil?

A person that had already observed the phenomenon created when cooks on sailing ships dumped their grease overboard. The wakes left behind those ships were much smoother than the wakes of other ships (the ship he was on was part of a fleet of 96 British ships sailing against the French, so the two ships with smooth wakes was definitely noticeable, with the explanation provided by the captain of the ship he was on).

The whole intention of carrying the oil with him was so he could perform his own experiments whenever the opportunity arose.

The honour of Dutch seamen: Benjamin Franklin’s theory of oil on troubled waters and its epistemological aftermath

Edit: skeptic2's anecdote wasn't off topic, at all.
 
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  • #10
Cyrus said:
My freshman undergraduate physics textbook doesn't have the answer, so why would a grade 11 physics book have it?

Surface roughness is a complex phenomenon that depends on many things, including the surface under the water. The water has ripples and waves in different parts of the lake due to different ground textures.

Neither my freshman physics book has the answer. But, I remember gr 11 physics book talking about how material properties/density or ocean depth affect the waves speed etc. It wasn't in detail and explanations were overly simplified. I don't think it ever considered under water surface textures.

I am done all undergrad physics courses but never saw anything about surface waves.
 
  • #11
Thanks BobG. I had remembered it as happening in France. I guess I was mistaken.
 
  • #12
skeptic2 said:
Thanks BobG. I had remembered it as happening in France. I guess I was mistaken.

I believe he demonstrated the oil on the water experiment several places, including France.
 
  • #13
A quick google shows that an ocean wave travels at:
[tex] v = \sqrt{ \frac{g\lambda}{2\pi} \tanh\left(\frac{2\pi d}{\lambda}\right)} [/tex]
Where v is the velocity, [tex]\lambda[/tex] is the wavelength of the traveling wave, d is the water depth, and g is gravity. It seems independent of fluid density.

This is counter-intuitive to my initial thinking, which relates to speed of propagating sound waves. The speed of sound can be written as:
[tex] c = \sqrt{\gamma \frac{p}{\rho}}[/tex]
Where p is pressure and [tex]\rho[/tex] is the fluid density. An increase in fluid density in sound waves decreases the speed of sound.

However, it seems as though from a few sources that the speed is a function of wavelength only. http://www.owrc.com/waves/waves.html
 
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  • #14
minger said:
However, it seems as though from a few sources that the speed is a function of wavelength only. http://www.owrc.com/waves/waves.html

Don't ever say this! The wavelength is determined by two things: The frequency of the source of the wave, and the speed of the wave in the material (determined by material properties... which CAN sometimes be a function of frequency, as dispersion). The equation v=f*lamba is in my opinion one of the worst mathematical statements commonly seen in physics texts. lamda = v/f would be so much better.

Wavelength never determines speed. It's always better to think of any wave in terms of its frequency rather than its wavelength... because the frequency (usually) doesn't change. I'll state "usually" because of certain things like harmonic generation, etc.
 
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Related to How Do Surface Waves Behave in an Ocean of Oil?

What are surface waves of an oil ocean?

Surface waves of an oil ocean refer to the movement of oil on the surface of the ocean caused by wind, currents, and other factors.

What causes surface waves in an oil ocean?

Surface waves in an oil ocean are caused by a combination of wind, currents, and the properties of the oil itself. The wind creates ripples on the surface of the ocean, which push the oil along in a certain direction. The viscosity and density of the oil also play a role in how it moves on the surface of the water.

How do surface waves affect marine life?

Surface waves of an oil ocean can have negative impacts on marine life. The oil can coat the feathers or fur of animals, making it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature and causing them to drown. It can also damage the gills and feathers of fish, making it difficult for them to breathe and swim.

Can surface waves spread oil over large areas of the ocean?

Yes, surface waves can cause oil to spread over large areas of the ocean. As the waves move, they can carry the oil with them, spreading it over a wider area. This can make it difficult for cleanup efforts to contain and remove the oil.

How do scientists study surface waves of an oil ocean?

Scientists study surface waves of an oil ocean using a variety of methods, including satellite imagery, remote sensing, and on-site measurements. They also use computer models to simulate the movement of oil on the ocean surface and understand how it may impact marine life and the environment.

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