Tag Archive | wind shear

Dilemma of Differentness

This is an excerpt from my book Solving Tornadoes: Mastering the Mystery of the Vortex

Dilemma of Differentness

When I first started seriously pondering the molecular basis of V-plasma as being an undiscovered (or under-discovered) phase of water, a plasma, powered by an unknown, and potentially peculiarly form of agitation occurring naturally in the atmosphere, it was not without considerable forethought. Plasma brings capabilities that make sense in the context of structure in the atmosphere. Unlike either a gas or a liquid, plasma shares one attribute with solids, internal cohesiveness. IOW, Like a solid, plasma has resistance to external perturbation (resilience): the ability to take a form and maintain that form without having to be contained. In short, plasma has structural integrity (though usually much weaker [ephemeral] than that of most solids). Additionally, plasma can be as light as air. So, being a phase of matter that provides structural integrity and being light enough that it won’t fall out of the sky, plasma seemed to make sense.

If there was a genuine hidden plasma phase of water, one that is molecularly distinct and stable, I knew that it would only be identified if one was willing to wade through the conceptual confusion that swirled around conundrum of the H2O molecule’s hydrogen bond and related polarization neutralization. The more I studied water’s hydrogen bond and its implications the more it revealed a world of confusion. The confusion was a opportunity in one sense because it seemed entirely possible that this confusion concealed a discovery waiting to be made. But the confusion also presented the potential for me myself becoming more confused than it seemed I was already.

Fortunately there was nothing confusing about the source of power that I had envisioned for V-plasma. Being comprised of positively and negatively charged particles in an excited state, plasma requires a constant source of energy in order to emerge, persist, and grow. In no small part due to the fact that boundaries of large bodies of air can span hundreds of miles, wind shear, specifically the collision of molecules that takes place at/along shared boundaries of bodies of air moving at cross angles (opposite) to each other, was the only known atmospheric phenomena that can possibly produce the kind of sustained agitation of molecules necessary for such a plasma to persist, I reasoned. Most significantly, the inclusion of wind shear gave my thinking some conceptual focus on the nature of the agitation that I was attempting to visualize. Specifically, it defined a conceptual framework of air molecules colliding in kind of a side-long trajectory along a plane. From this came another strategy to tie the kite string of my thinking onto the reality of evidence. I decided that before I would get excited about any model for the molecular basis of V-plasma I would insist that it be able to resolve the dilemma of differentness.

The dilemma of differentness was something I’d been obsessed with long before my musings on V-plasma. When I would watch TV documentaries on tornadoes (NOVA and National Geographic) I always found myself waiting for the star of the show, differentness: specifically, differentness in moist/dry air along shear boundaries (warm, moist air flows up from the Gulf of Mexico and the cold, dry air flows over the Rockies, meeting in tornado alley). Specifically, differentness had to do with the fact that tornadoes and thunderstorms are not just associated with wind shear, but with wind shear in which one of the bodies of air is moist (high suspended H2O level) and the other is dry (low suspended H2O level). Why do tornadoes and thunderstorms show up so rapidly when the shear involves difference in humidity and not just differences in speed/direction of flow? To me this was much more than just a rhetorical question. I was sure that the answer would tell us something profound about tornadoes.

We can think of the dilemma of differentness as a thought experiment. Imagine three boxes of equal size. These boxes have no sides so air runs through them freely. Imagine each box encapsulates a different but similar section of wind shear (boundary between two bodies going in different directions). And, let’s say that these boundaries bisect the boxes at the same angle. In the first box both bodies of air are desiccate (dry). In the second both bodies of air are moisture laden. In the third box, one of the bodies of air is dry and the other is moisture laden. Any theoretical derivation of the specific molecular dynamics of V-plasma had to indicate the emergence of V-plasma in the third box only. If it emerged in either the first or the second, even if it also emerged in the third also, it failed to resolve the moist/dry differentness dilemma, and would be rejected accordingly.

With that in mind I set upon . . .