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I What is convection in a serpentine flow field?

  1. Jul 10, 2017 #1
    Hi all. Rather than a physics student, I'm a translator, and tucked into a piece I'm translating from Japanese is an obscure (to me) physics reference. The sentence goes something like, "It seems a type of convection is taking place amid the serpentine flow of my memory." If someone could explain to me in the plainest possible English what this refers to, keeping in mind I have no physics background past high school, I would much appreciate it!
     
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  3. Jul 11, 2017 #2

    Nidum

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    What is the subject being written about in the document generally and what is the text before and after that particular phrase ?
     
  4. Jul 11, 2017 #3

    davenn

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    serpentine is a type of rock ... is it a geology book ?
     
  5. Jul 11, 2017 #4
    "Serpentine" means wavy, meandering, this way & that, like the motion of a snake, as opposed to direct, in a straight line. It's hard to imagine "convection in a serpentine flow field". It sounds like the author is trying to use a scientific metaphor, perhaps without a clear idea of the science.
     
  6. Jul 11, 2017 #5

    sophiecentaur

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    The word suggests to me the pattern of smoke rising, 'lazily' from a cigarette, like a serpent, in random curves from side to side. Adding the word "field" doesn't make it easy to understand but it the metaphor makes good sense to me when referred to a memory process. My memory works that way all the time.
     
  7. Jul 11, 2017 #6

    anorlunda

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    I agree about the smoke. The puzzling part is the phrase "my memory" at the end of the sentence. It doesn't belong in a scientific subject.

    Could the "my memory" be a translation error?
     
  8. Jul 11, 2017 #7
    Thanks for the replies. The whole essay is about the author's memories, so that part definitely isn't a translation error - the essay doesn't have much to do with physics other than this sentence, but the author was a physics professor, so I do think he at least knew what he was talking about. The part that could be an error is the word "field" - it might be more accurate to just call it a "serpentine flow." However, I've found references like the following that make me think otherwise: https://www.comsol.com/model/fuel-cell-with-serpentine-flow-field-14449

    In this particular passage, the author is talking about how memories from different parts of his life seem to be getting mixed together in his mind. Does that make any sense as a physics metaphor related to convection and serpentine flow? Thanks for any insights.
     
  9. Jul 11, 2017 #8

    anorlunda

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    burning-cigarette-smoke.jpg

    i would say a metaphor for confusion, not physics. Your question perhaps fits better on a psychology forum rather than a physics forum.
     
  10. Jul 11, 2017 #9
    It sounds fine as a metaphor; it's just the combination of convection and serpentine flow that sounds a bit confused - perhaps I'm taking the metaphor a bit too literally, but how would you detect/characterise/distinguish convection in the presence of a serpentine flow field? Maybe the serpentine flow comes from the convection - think of the classic experiment of putting a crystal of potassium permanganate in a beaker of water and heating it from below, and watching the stream of purple rise and fall with the convection current (plus diffusion of course).
     
  11. Jul 11, 2017 #10

    Nidum

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    Could loosely be interpreted as the emergence of an organised flow from a chaotic flow .

    As if in the chaotic organisation of his life's memories some process is working to sort out the memories of pivotal events from the general mess . As the process progresses he begins to see more clearly what the worth of his life and life's work has been ?

    or

    He is describing a process of coming to understand a scientific problem more and more clearly as he ponders and digests the mass of information in his memories about his lifetime's research work ?
     
  12. Jul 11, 2017 #11

    sophiecentaur

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    I think you may be. It's not a question that fits the PF guidelines but, nonetheless it produced a nice picture of smoke, about to give someone lung cancer. :nb)
    The word "serpentine" isn't used enough, imo. But it was "convection" that brought the OP to PF and the words were combined by the original author in a pretty well non-Physics sort of way.
     
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