Anomalous suspension

Anomalous Suspension
Video screen shots of Michael Nauenberg's 2008 demonstration of anomalous suspension, at the UC Santa Cruz physics labs, showing two water column barometers, both inverted into tub of water, the left one filled with airless water, the right one filled with tap water, both inside of vacuum receiver, and as the vacuum is increased, the level of the water column in the right barometer begins to fall, as air bubbles ascend upward, as though the water were "boiling" at room temperature, and eventually the column falls to the level of the water in the dish, whereas the left column barometer remains the same height. [8]
In science, anomalous suspension refers to []

In 1661, Christiaan Huygens observed that if he took a Torricelli-style water barometer, the water previously having the air bubble boiled out of it, and put it into a Boyle-style vacuum receiver, and then pumped the air out the receiver, that the column of water, in the Torricelli-tube, did NOT fall, as the vacuum increased; whereas the column did fall when normal water was used, such as Boyle had found in the previous two years.

Huygens reported his findings back to Robert Boyle, which Boyle initially denied, per reason that he could not reproduce it with his own air pump. Boyle also suggested that Huygens pump could not evacuate sufficiently. Huygens, in turn, believed that Boyle’s pump was defective.

In 1663, the anomalous suspension experiment was successfully carried out in London and subsequently repeated before members of the Royal Society. [5]

During this period, Boyle suggested that mercury be substituted for water and that the mercury be purged for four days.

Huygens eventually published a letter in the Journal des Scavans, later published in the Philosophical Transactions (1672), wherein he recapitulated the history of the air pump and the anomalous phenomena. [5]

In 2008, Michael Nauenberg, a German-born American physicist, repeated Huygens “anomalous suspension” on video, at one of the University of California, Santa Cruz, physics labs, available on YouTube, wherein you can see that when one does the vacuum-in-vacuum experiment with normal water, that when the void begins to increase in the receiver, that bubbles in the water begin to form and rise to the top or Torricelli space, as though the water were “boiling at room temperature” as Boyle had previous described this phenomena. In Nauenberg’s video, you can see that the Torricelli water column, on the left, containing the previously air purified water, i.e. water with the air boiled out beforehand, does not fall as the void in the receiver increases. [3]

In 2015, Nauenberg, in his “Solution to the Long-Standing Puzzle of Huygens’ ‘Anomalous Suspension’”, states that the phenomena of anomalous behavior has remained an unsolved phenomena to this day, but attributes it to molecular adhesion, in the airless water, between the water molecules and the glass; possibly something related to the capillary action phenomena. Nauenberg says that in the normal water, the bubbles bread up the water, or something along these lines, thus letting the column fall. [4]

The following are related quotes:

“Hearing nothing from you by the two last posts concerning what I sent you about the high-suspended mercury; I thought fit to send you this addition thereunto, to be inserted toward the close of it next before the last paragraph As to that ‘subtitle matter’ therefore of Huygens (as likewise that of Descartes) supposed to penetrate the glass, quicksilver, and other bodies: I do neither affirm, nor deny it, but only suspend my assent till it be proved; and if it be proved, I admit it. But admitting (without affirming) such to be; and admitting it also to be heavy or pressing downwards (for else it makes nothing to the present busyness:) I am not satisfied that this matter having free admission (though perhaps not equally free) as well above as below, should make this difference; since, whatever power it have, should equally operate (for ought I can see) whether the quicksilver be or be not cleansed of common air. And therefore the chief (if not the only) thing which doth determine whether it can or cannot be suspended at such a height, being this, whether it be or be not cleansed of common air: It seems to me most likely, that the cause of difference should be in that air, on whose absence or presence it doth depend, whether the quicksilver do stand or fall and what therein should make the difference I see nothing more likely than the spring of it. As to that of Brouncker (Ѻ), the case is somewhat different. For though he doth also attribute the effect to somewhat in the external air, which may give a further pressure than what is commonly observed in the Torricellian experiment: yet I do not remember that he doth expressly say whether it do or do not penetrate the glass. And I think we may more easily give an account of it (and perhaps more suitable to his sense) if we say, it do not. Which I should thus do.”
John Wallis (1672), “Letter to Henry Oldenburg”, Oct 5/[15]

“Huygens’ most important contribution to pneumatics was his discovery of ‘anomalous suspension’ in 1661. He had purged water of air, and filled a barometer with this water. Next, he put the barometer under his recipient [vacuum bulb] and evacuated it. To his astonishment, the water in the barometer did not descend. Today, the phenomenon is attributed to adhesion between the water and the glass tube, but in Huygens time it was rather puzzling. Boyle initially denied the effect, because he could not produce it with his own pump. He suggested that Huygens’ pump could not evacuate sufficiently. Huygens on the other hand (correctly) believed it was Boyle's pump that was detective.”
Anne Helden (1991), “The Age of the Air Pump” (pg. 153) [1]

“In the early 1660s, Christiaan Huygens claimed to have observed the so-called ‘anomalous suspension’ of water, the failure of a column of water, when purged of air, to descend in the Torricellian apparatus when moved into the receiver of an air-pump. This was a finding that, if genuine, appeared to threaten the conceptual basis of Boyle's pneumatics.”
— Steven Shapin (2010), Never Pure [2]

1. Helden, Anne. (1991). “The Age of the Air-Pump” (pdf) (pg. 153), Tractrix: Yearbook for the History of Science, Medicine, Technology, and Mathematics, 3:149-72.
2. Shapin, Steven. (2010). Never Pure: Historical Studies of Science as If It Was Produced by People with Bodies, Situated in Time, Space, Culture, and Society, and Struggling for Credibility and Authority (anomalous suspension, 5+ pgs; quote, pg. 209). JHU Press.
3. (a) Nauenberg, Michael. (2008). “Huygens Anomalous Suspension” (Ѻ), YouTube, Nauenberg2, Nov 15.
(b) Anon. (2019). “In Memoriam: Michael Nauenberg (1934-1919)” (Ѻ), UC Santa Cruz, Jul 29.
4. Nauenberg, Michael. (2015). “Solution to the Long-Standing Puzzle of Huygens’ ‘Anomalous Suspension’” (abs) (Ѻ), Archive for the History of Exact Sciences, 69:327-41.
5. Wallis, John. (2003). The Correspondence of John Wallis: 1672 to Apr 1675 (editors: Christoph Scriba; Philip Beeley) (anomalous suspension, 5+ pgs). Oxford.

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