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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Dimensional Analysis and Intelligent Experimentation
Article Type: Book review From: Sensor Review, Volume 30, Issue 2
Andrew C. Palmer,World Scientific,www.worldscibooks.com/engineering/6524.html,June 2008,$48.00,164 pp.,978-981-270-818-2
In order to convey his knowledge of dimensional analysis, Andrew Palmer presents a well-informed and detailed book built on examples from a wide variety of backgrounds. This book covers methods in data analysis, which allows one to find useful results from dimensional analysis. The most important concept to gain from this text is that the idea of units is a human construct. Once this concept is understood, the theme of the book can be embraced and applied to data from many topics of research. This is demonstrated throughout the book by the author where he draws on examples from his other areas of expertise in sub sea pipeline engineering while also including contrasting examples from agriculture, such as ploughing, in order to demonstrate the applicability of dimensional data analysis to very differing scenarios. The author introduces the topic by verifying Pythagoras’ theorem using dimensional analysis and covers the fundamentals of converting units correctly. An interesting topic included in the text discusses empirical units that are not dimensionally consistent. The core theme of the text becomes apparent when the author introduces dimensionless groups. At this stage, the author moves on to carry out dimensional analysis and the remainder of the text is based on examples. To convey the use of variables and relationships in dimensional analysis, the author uses the example of the pendulum experiment. How is the behaviour of a pendulum described, and how was the conclusion derived that the period of the pendulum is proportional to the square root of the length of the pendulum? The author suggests what might be important in arriving at this conclusion such as the period, length, time, mass, gravity, how far the pendulum swings, temperature and the colour of the pendulum; his point being that it is important to keep an open mind in selecting variables for dimensional analysis. Further on, the same experiment is used and some fundamental dimensions are chosen to find the relationships between dimensionless groups, which result in the discovery of the relationship between the period and the length of the string. The topic of similarity and intelligent experimentation is discussed again based on examples from the author’s area of expertise. The author introduces the example of transmission of fluid along a pipe and the pressure difference required to achieve the desired flow rate. The discussion considers the definition of a pipe, from micro fluidic devices to magma channels in a volcano, and the different types of fluid that may pass through these pipes from air to sewage. The example used to highlight the need for similarity and intelligent experimentation as calculations based on previous experimentation would be impractical when dealing with such a range of pipes and fluids. Each chapter is concluded with problems for the reader to solve and solutions are given at the end of the text. This book is a valuable read for students wishing to gain more from dimensional, and others who are concerned with designing intelligent experiments based on dimensional analysis.
Colm CunniffeUniversity of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland