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SOLIDS, LIQUIDS, GASES, AND PLASMA

According to the molecular theory a gas consists of a large number of molecules which are far apart in comparison to their diameter. Each molecule moves freely and rapidly in a straight line except when it meets another molecule or col­lides with the walls of its container (Fig. 17). As a result of numerous collisions, the speed of any one molecule constantly changes in direction and, generally, in amount. A gas being compressed, these collisions become more frequent. In addi­tion, the speed a given molecule travels with is greatly in­creased when a gas is heated.

The law explaining gas pressure on the walls of a container due to the collision of separate molecules was first established

and stated by Daniel Bernuilli, a Petersburg acade­mician, as early as 1738. Even today the "Bernuilli effect" is considered to be one of the basic laws of thermodynamics.

The principal physical property distinguishing a gas from a liquid and a so­lid, consists in its ability to expand and occupy all the space available to it. Gases, therefore, have neither de­finite volume, nor definite shape, on the contrary, they take both the volume and shape of the container into which they are placed. They readily diffuse. The ease with which the molecules of a gas diffuse shows not only that they are in rapid motion, but also that the distance between them is large compared with the space occupied by the molecules themselves, in other words, compared with their own size.

Solid bodies and their behaviour are the next subject we shall deal with. It is not difficult to distinguish the property of a solid from that of a gas. It may be stated as follows: in the solid phase or condition the molecules attract each other strongly and, hence, they are unable to move about freely and rapidly as in the case of a gas. Of course, they are also in motion but they are limited both in the manner and range of move­ment. In fact, they are limited to vibrational and sometimes rotational motions. This explains the definite size and shape of solid bodies which neither flow as do liquids, nor occupy all available space as gases do. We may consider them as vibrating about their mean positions with a motion like that of a weight vibrating at the end of a spring. It is these vibra­tions which produce the sensation of temperature. In a hot body the power of the vibrations is large and the speed of the molecules in passing through their mean positions is found to be rather high. On the other hand in a cold body the power of the vibrations is less, the speed of molecular motion being greatly reduced.

What feature distinguishes a liquid from the two other states of matter? We find that a liquid is not so compressible as a gas. The reason for a certain degree of compressibility of liquids is easily understood. The molecules of a liquid are much closer together than those of a gas. They are free to move but owing to the closeness of different molecules to each other they are unable to travel far without colliding with other molecules. Under such conditions, on the one hand the mole­cules of a liquid are more free to move than the molecules of a solid, but on the other hand, they are less free to travel than those of a gas. In short, the molecule of a liquid is in a state of constant motion without any definite direction. It is quite free to travel from place to place within the liquid itself; but it cannot easily leave its surface, i.e., evaporate, because of the rather strong force of attraction observed between the molecules of any liquid. This force serves to fix the volume of a given liquid although its shape is changeable. In other words, liquids have a definite volume at a given temperature but they do not occupy all the available space and always take the shape of the container. They are found, in general, to diffuse much more slowly than gases do.

Besides gases, solids, and liquids there is a fourth state of matter, namely, a plasma state. It is caused by heating the matter to as high a temperature as 4000-5000°C and even higher. Under such conditions, the so-called ionized gas is produced with a great mass of free electrons forced away from the atoms. Generally speaking, "plasma" is a rather new term in science, the physical properties of the plasma being a prob­lem that has not been fully solved yet.

Exercises

1. Learn the following active words:

Available доступный

Collide сталкиваться

Compressible сжимаемый

Diffuse рассеивать, диффундировать

Force сила

frequent частый

ionize ионизировать

occupy занимать

pressure давление

shape форма

vibrate вибрировать

2. Translate the following word combinations and say what non-finite form of the verb is used as an attribute:

1. the burning coal, the burning process;

2. the freezing water, the freezing point;

3. the turning point, the turning motor;

4. the writing-table, the writing student;

5. the melting ice, the melting process.

3. Define the function of the word do in the following sentences:

1. Do you know the principal physical property distinguish­ing a gas from a liquid and a solid? 2. Solid bodies neither flow as do liquids, nor occupy all available space as gases do. 3. Many substances can and doat various times exist in more than one of the four possible states. 4. Liquids have a definite volume at a given temperature but they donot occupy all the available space and take the shape of the container. 5. They say that heated liquids expand more than solids do when heated.

4. Translate the following questions and answer them:

1. Знаете ли вы основной закон термодинамики? 2. Можно ли превратить жидкость в газ? 3. При каких усло­виях можно превратить твердое тело в жидкое? 4. Может ли твердое тело превратиться непосредственно в газ? 5. Когда вода начинает кипеть? 6. Что такое кипение? 7. Что озна­чает термин "latent heat"? 8. Какой закон установил Бернулли? 9. Когда увеличивается скорость молекулярного движения? 10. Почему почти все тела расширяются при нагревании? 11. Какова точка замерзания воды?

5. Find in (b) synonyms to the following words in (a):

(a) fluid, make, in question, matter, convert, for example, amount

(b) change, substance, for instance, quantity, under consideration, do, liquid

6. Speak on:

1. A solid state of matter.

2. A liquid state of matter.

3. A gaseous state of matter.

7. Qualify the following nouns with suitable adjectives:

Adjectives: gradual, open, constant, rapid, solid, physical, basic, atmospheric, molecular, definite

Nouns: pressure, change, speed, container, property, law, body, motion, size, theory

8. Put six questions to the text.

9. Form words with the following suffixes and use them in sen­tences of your own:

-ion, -ing, -tion, -y, -ous, -ful, -ance, -less, -ive, -ment, -ly, -ize, -able

Describe Fig. 17.

11. Translate the following text:

Nuclear Engineering Course

Experiments are carried out at times by the students attending the course of nuclear engineering at the university. They are of two types. The first consists of measurements at a low flux level, generally carried out when the burn-up of the fuel is such that an addition of new fuel elements, or a change of some, if required. The students take part in all the measurements connected with the restarting of the reactor. At the same time, they make measurements of the flux distribution, power level and control rod calibration. This work is, however, hampered by the high background of gamma radiation.

The second type comprises experiments made during nor­mal operation. These are mostly neutron and gamma flux measurements in water or in immersed shielded equipment.

LESSON TWENTY-THREE

PROMISING SOURCES OF POWER

The large quantities of electric power generated at present mostly depend on various sources of mechanical power. It is obvious that production of so much power by existing means only could not last for ever since the earth's available supply of coal, wood and oil will be completely used up some day.

Apart from the main sources of power, that is, fuel and water power which meet most of the present-day power require­ments of mankind and also apart from atomic power, there are several other sources as well.

It is with one of these so-called "new sources of power" that we shall deal below.

Wind-Driven Power Plant. It is calculated that the annual power available in the winds over the earth's surface exceeds millions of millions of kilowatt hours. Nevertheless, only a comparatively negligible part of that value finds an efficient application under our present conditions.

It would be hard to say exactly when windmills were first harnessed as a source of mechanical power. The Dutch, at least, are said to have used them for centuries in order to perform certain kinds of mechanical work. Old Egyptian writings tell us that wind power had already been used a thous­and and more years before our times. However, wind power has been able to meet but small local needs for mechanical power.

Today scientists, designers, and inventors are turning their attention to another purpose, namely, that of electricity generation. Generally speaking, electric windmills are in production or operation in a number of countries, the Russian Federation, the United States, England and France being among them. We should like to point out here that in 1931 a large turbine-powered by the wind was built for electricity genera­tion in Yalta, the Crimea. The electric generator of that equip­ment was housed in an installation raised on a high tower.

Windmills may in theory obtain perhaps about 60 per cent of the wind power but in practice losses in the rotor and in the whole equipment as well as considerable electrical losses are supposed to reduce the efficiency to some 40 per cent or even less. The basic elements defining and influencing the obtainable power are the velocity and strength of the wind.

So far nothing was said about the principal disadvantage distinguishing wind power from some of the other sources of power. Sometimes there is no wind at all and even when it blows, its strength and direction may change at any moment. In short, we cannot expect the wind to blow when, where and as long as we should like it.

Whatever may be its exact form, purpose, or maintenance, a wind power plant must consist of the following main parts:

1. A rotor which is turned round by the wind. It goes without saying that a wind-driven rotor must obviously be designed in such a manner that the wind blowing upon it causes it to rotate.

2. A tower to raise the rotor well above the earth's surface so that it can circulate freely without any danger or damage to people. The tower should be as high as possible because then the rotor intercepts wind moving at a greater and stead­ier rate than that over the earth's surface.

3. The electric generator to be driven by the rotor and to produce power.

The three parts mentioned above form the wind-driven power plant.

Exercises

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