Some years ago I was involved in research on what happens in containers rotating about a vertical axis and in which two liquids of different density were reacted with each other.
This was to enable metal-slag reactions to take place without the slag contacting the vessel wall. The upper layer had to be slowed down by tangential gas jets and it appeared that very complex fluid flow phenomena were developed.
I looked for an optical system which would enable examination of the flow patterns by freezing rotation. I asked Mechanical Engineering who tried fitting a television camera whose signal was fed through slip rings. The camera did not enjoy being centrifuged - in fact it never worked again.
A mention in a textbook on fluid flow of a device called a rotoscope prompted me to write to the author at MIT. He sent my letter to a colleague at Berkeley.
The latter sent me a parcel of blueprints, instructions on how to build a rotoscope and a very pleasant letter offering further help. He mentioned that if I wanted to see one in operation I should contact the Met. Office Laboratories at Bracknell. When I phoned Bracknell a fellow there said, Oh yes, we have several rotoscopes which you are very welcome to look at. But, he added, you can see them in the Huxley Building - your second year students use a rotoscope in a laboratory experiment.
It had taken me about five months and enquiries via MIT, Berkeley and Bracknell to find something on my own doorstep.
Just after the war a Government department journal carried a feature called Unanswered Questions for inter-laboratory inquiries of this kind. If you think IC Reporter should do the same contact the editor (e-mail email@example.com).
(c) Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1995
Last Revised: 27 November 1995