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Notes on Hydrodynamics. III. On the Dynamical Equations ,

On the constitution of the Luminiferous Ether

On the Theory of certain Bands seen in the Spectrum

SECTION I. Explanation of the Formation of the Bands on the imper-

fect Theory of Interferences. Mode of Calculating the Number

of Bands seen in a given part of the Spectrum

SECTION II. Investigation of the Intensity of the Light on the com-

plete Theory of Undulations, including the Explanation of the

apparent Polarity of the Bands

Notes on Hydrodynamics. IV. Demonstration of a Fundamental


On a difficulty in the Theory of Sound

On the Formation of the Central Spot of Newton's Rings beyond the

Critical Angle

On some points in the Received Theory of Sound

On the perfect Blackness of the Central Spot in Newton's Rings, and on

the Verification of Fresnel's Formulæ for the intensities of Reflected

and Refracted Rays

On Attractions, and on Clairaut's Theorem

On the Variation of Gravity at the Surface of the Earth

On a Mode of Measuring the Astigmatism of a Defective Eye

On the Determination of the Wave Length corresponding with any Point

of the Spectrum .

Discussion of a Differential Equation relating to the Breaking of Railway


Notes on Hydrodynamics. VI. On Waves

On the Dynamical Theory of Diffraction

Part I Theoretical Investigation.

SECTION I. Preliminary Analysis

SECTION II. Propagation of an Arbitrary Disturbance in an

Elastic Medium

SECTION III. Determination of the Law of the Disturbance in a

Secondary Wave of Light


[From the Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal, Vol. III. p. 121,

March, 1848.]


III.—On the Dynamical Equations. In reducing to calculation the motion of a system of rigid bodies, or of material points. there are two sorts of equations with which we are concerned; the one expressing the geometrical connexions of the bodies or particles with one another, or with curves or surfaces external to the system, the other expressing the relations between the changes of motion which take place in the system and the forces producing such changes. The equations belonging to these two classes may be called respectively the geometrical, and the dynamical equations. Precisely the same remarks apply to the motion of fluids. The geometrical equations which occur in

* The series of “notes on Hydrodynamics” which are printed in Vols. II., III. and iv. of the Cambridge and Dublin Mathematical Journal, were written by agreement between Sir William Thomson and myself mainly for the use of Students. As far as my own share in the series is concerned, there is little contained in the “notes” which may not be found elsewhere. Acting however upon the general advice of my friends, I have included my share of the series in the present reprint. It may be convenient to give here the references to the whole series.

I. On the Equation of Continuity (Thomson), Vol. II. p. 282.
II. On the Equation of the Bounding Surface (Thomson), Vol. III. p. 89.
IIL (Stokes) as above.
IV. Demonstration of a Fundamental Theorem (Stokes), Vol. III. p. 209.
y. On the Vis Viva of a Liquid in motion (Thomson), Vol. 1v. p. 90.
VI. On Waves (Stokes), Vol. iv. p. 219.


Hydrodynamics have been already considered by Professor Thomson, in Notes I. and II. The object of the present Note is to form the dynamical equations.

The fundamental hypothesis of Hydrostatics is, that the mutual pressure of two contiguous portions of a fluid, separated by an imaginary plane, is normal to the surface of separation. This hypothesis forms in fact the mathematical definition of a fluid. The equality of pressure in all directions is in reality not an independent hypothesis, but a necessary consequence of the former. A proof of this may be seen at the commencement of Prof. Miller's Hydrostatics. The truth of our fundamental hypothesis, or at least its extreme nearness to the truth, is fully established by experiment. Some of the nicest processes in Physics depend upon it; for example, the determination of specific gravities, the use of the level, the determination of the zenith by reflection from the surface of mercury.

The same hypothesis is usually made in Hydrodynamics. If it be assumed, the equality of pressure in all directions will follow as a necessary consequence. This may be proved nearly as before, the only difference being that now we have to take into account, along with the impressed forces, forces equal and opposite to the effective forces. The verification of our bypothesis is however much more difficult in the case of motion, partly on account of the mathematical difficulties of the subject, partly because the experiments do not usually admit of great accuracy. Still, theory and experiment have been in certain cases sufficiently compared to shew that our hypothesis may be employed with very little error in many important instances. There are however many phenomena which point out the existence of a tangential force in fluids in motion, analogous in some respects to friction in the case of solids, but differing from it in this respect, that whereas in solids friction is exerted at the surface, and between points which move relatively to each other with a finite velocity, in fluids friction is exerted throughout the mass, where the velocity varies continuously from one point to another. Of course it is the same thing to say that in such cases there is a tangential force along with a normal pressure, as to say that the mutual pressure of two adjacent elements of a fluid is no longer normal to their common surface.

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