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Sonoluminescence is the initiation of bright flashes of light caused by imposing a loud, high frequency sound on a gas bubble contained within a liquid.  According to one report [1] sound (typically 110 decibels at 25,000 Hertz) can cause a single air bubble in water to oscillate.  As the pressure of the sound wave decreases (in the normal course of a single cycle of increasing and decreasing pressure), the bubble’s internal pressure causes it to increase in size to a maximum radius of about 70 micrometers.  As the external pressure of the sound wave increases, the bubble begins to collapse.  This collapse occurs partway through the rise in external pressure (and lasts about 15 x 10-6 seconds).  The collapsing bubble walls shrink the bubble to less than a hundredth of its maximum size in about 15 microseconds.  Then, as the bubble nears its minimum size, it emits a bright flash of light.  

The maximum duration of the flash of light is about 50 picoseconds (50 x 10-12 seconds).  The bubble then oscillates about its minimum radius for a short time, before the cycle repeats itself.  The temperature rise inside the bubble is estimated to rise to between 100,000 and a million degrees Kelvin, and the internal pressures to as much as 100 million times atmospheric pressure.  The cycles -- 25,000 per second -- are remarkably stable.  The bubble walls implode at a speed greater than Mach 4 (i.e. four times the speed of sound in the gas inside the bubble), such that the acceleration of the bubble walls must exceed 1011 g (i.e. 100 billion times the acceleration of gravity on the Earth’s surface). [1]  

Putterman [2] estimates the acceleration of the bubble walls at 1012 g, when using a sound frequency of 30 Khertz.  He believes “the bubble is concentrating the energy of the acoustic vibrations by a factor of one trillion.  That is, the sound wave that drives the bubble is centimeters long, but the light is emitted from a region of atomic dimensions.”

The pulsating bubble lags the acoustic pressure wave by a phase angle of about 100o [2].  The upper bound of the duration of the flash of light is again about 50 x 10-12 sec.  The timing between consecutive flashes is about 35 x 10-6 sec, and vary from this regularity by no more than 40 x 10-12 sec.  At the point of maximum expansion, the bubble has a near-vacuum inside (having gone from a size of several microns to about 50 microns), but “the number of molecules inside it has not changed.”  The bubble’s collapse is from about 50 microns maximum radius to about 0.5 microns.  At the minimal value, “the surface of the bubble stops its inward rush as though it had suddenly slammed into a wall.” [emphasis added]  Putterman assumes that at this point, “the size of the bubble is determined by the van der Waals forces of the hard core of its contents.”  “The light flash comes out as the bubble decelerates through its minimum radius.” “No theory can explain how those particular radii come about.”   

For sounds below about 108 decibels, sonoluminescence does not occur, even though the average radius of the bubble increases steadily as the sound gets louder.  Then just as sonoluminescence sets in, the average radius of the bubble suddenly decreases for a moment (“an unusual discontinuity”) before rising again with increasing loudness.  

The bubble emits more purple light than red and more ultraviolet than purple.  Beyond ultraviolet wavelengths of 0.2 microns (i.e. beyond photon energies of six electron volts -- which corresponds to a temperature of 72,000 oK) the light cannot propagate through water (and is thus unobserved).  This may imply that there is more energy being generated than is either observed or even expected from the viewpoint of mainstream physics.  

The adiabatic heating of a collapsing bubble [i.e. the breaking apart of the molecules in the bubble with light being emitted as they recombine] provides an impressive mechanism for energy concentration. This is the same mechanism as in chemiluminescence or cavitation studies, but in and of itself cannot be the only or complete answer.  Such heating alone would not be able to generate the largely ultraviolet spectrum observed.  It is assumed that an additional stage of energy amplification must take place.  

Sonoluminescence and Connective Physics may explain the anomalies of hydrosonics and Zero-Point Energy -- not just cavitation tapping into the zero-point, but a bubble collapsing sonoluminescence!  Hydrosonics studies by Griggs, for example, has suggested yet another means of acquiring free energy.  [See Selected New Energy Patents]  

The amount of light emitted with each flash increases by a factor of 200 as the temperature drops from 35 to 0 degrees Celsius.  At 0 degrees, the bubble gives off about 10 million photons per flash.  [This factor may be related to the speed of sound at different temperatures -- which in turn is related to the relative value of D.  See below.]

Attempts to find single bubble sonoluminescence in liquids other than water, were not successful.  Pure nitrogen bubbles, for example, make hardly any light, a pure oxygen bubble was very dim, an 80-20 mixture of nitrogen and oxygen was a weak emitter, as well as the use of commercial liquid air (which has no argon!)  Adding Argon boosted the light intensity (as did Helium and Xenon -- but each with a unique spectrum).  A small gas impurity of about 1 percent seems to be one of the keys to sonoluminescence, despite the lack of simple explanation as to why this is an optimal amount.  

One speculative suggestion, however, is to assume that the addition of a noble gas slight impurity is equivalent to the slight inequalities or asymmetries in practical renditions of Sacred Geometry and/or Transcendental Numbers.  Furthermore, the noble gases (with the single exception of Helium) all have cubic-face centered crystalline forms, as do the particular ORME elements of Rhodium and Iridium.  Sonoluminescence may be just one more example of the fascinating manner in which all these sciences interconnect.  

Understanding sonoluminescence is still in progress, but the extraordinary accelerations experienced suggest very strongly that The Fifth Element of Connective Physics may be able to partially explain what is happening.  It should be obvious, for example, that a bubble oscillating between an acceleration of its walls of zero and a value in excess of 1011 g, must also have an extraordinary rate of change of acceleration as well.  Also of critical importance is the fact that the bubble walls are experiencing a velocity four times that of sound.  Inasmuch as The Fifth Element time delay constant, D, in a mechanical system is a function of the speed of sound, it should be clear that sonoluminescence represents an excellent example of a mechanical system operating in times less than D.  

In order to briefly investigate how Connective Physics might shed some light on the phenomenon of sonoluminescence, a “back of the envelope” calculation of the Fifth Element term, (D m v da/dt), can be attempted.  [D is the mechanical time delay constant, m, the mass of the bubble’s contents, and v and a are the velocity and acceleration, respectively, of the walls of the collapsing bubble.]  We are thus attempting to calculate  the amount of power that is being contributed by the universe to the system.  

At the critical moment when the flash of light occurs (during a time duration of no more than 50 picoseconds), we have the situation where the acceleration, a, is initially on the order of 1012 m/sec2, and by the end of the flash, must approximate zero (as the bubble momentarily begins to oscillate about its minimum radius).  Therefore,  

da/dt  ³  (1012 - 0) m/sec2 / (50 x 10-12 sec)  =  2 x 1022 m/sec3

(Equation 1)

The mass, m, of the contents of the bubble can be calculated from its initial radius, i.e.:  

m  =  r V  @  (1 kg/m3) (4/3) p (50 x 10-6 m)3  @  0.5 x 10-12 kg

(Equation 2)

where we have assumed atmospheric pressure when the bubble’s radius is at equilibrium.  (We have also assumed that the mass does not change in the process of sonoluminescence -- an apparently valid assumption, but an assumption which must be stated at the outset.)           

The calculation of the time delay constant, D, is a bit more complicated, but in general is  twice the radius of the bubble, R, divided by S, the speed of sound.  

D  =  2 R / S

(Equation 3)

All three variables in Equation 3 have a significant range of values.  In calculating R, for example, we assume that the radius varies from 50 microns to 0.5 microns.  Meanwhile, the speed of sound is dependent upon the square root of the temperature (or pressure); and for air at a temperature of T = 300o K, S @ 350 m/sec.  However, when we reach a temperature of, for example, T = 1,000,000o K, the speed of sound within the bubble dramatically increases to a value closer to S @ 20,200 m/sec {i.e. S = (350 m/s) x [1,000,000/300]1/2}.  Accordingly, D varies from D @ 1.4 x 10-7 sec to D @ 5.0 x 10-11 sec. As S increases, D decreases, i.e. the time to get a signal across the radius of the bubble becomes increasingly less.  Also, we are no longer operating under a condition where the speed of the collapsing walls is exceeding the speed of the signal, and thus Newton’s Third Law begins to come into play.  This is, in effect, the braking mechanism!  [The dramatic increase in pressure might be thought of as the braking mechanism, but this would not be true if the system was being pressured faster than it could react to the pressure -- a fundamental tenet of Connective Physics.  Thus the underlying brake mechanism is the variations in the speed of the collapsing walls and the time delay constant as determined by the speed of sound (i.e. speed of the signal).]           

The speed of the collapsing walls is, according to reports, four times the speed of sound.  However, as we have just seen, the speed of sound varies greatly as the bubble collapses.  This would imply that v varies from v @ 1400 m/sec to v @ 80,000 m/sec.  If we consider the speed of the walls at the inception of the flash, we are looking at the case where the speed is given by the latter value.  On this basis, we can then roughly estimate the universe’s power contribution to the sonoluminescence as:  

D m v da/dt  »  4 x 104 watts  

It is important to realize that the 40 kilowatts of power is a minimum peak power output!  In Equation 1, for example, da/dt ³ the calculated value.  Furthermore, the power output is a peak power for the time increment of t = 50 x 10-12 sec.  The energy being contributed by the universe to the local system is thus:

E  ³  (4 x 104 watts) (50 x 10-12 sec)  =  2 x 10-6 joules/bubble  

We might also note that if v = 4 S, then:  

 D m v da/dt = (2 R/S) m (4S) da/dt = 8 R m da/dt!

(Equation 4)

This states that the universe’s power contribution to the sonoluminescence phenomenon is a function of the radius of the bubble (at the moment of the acceleration rate of change undergoing a maximum), the mass of the bubble, and the rate of change of the acceleration.  The speed of sound (and velocity of the bubble walls) cancels out!

Accordingly, the average power contribution by the universe to the system in general is given by:

P  =  D m v da/dt Dt f  =  (2 R/S) m (xS) da/dt Dt f


P  =  2 R m x (da/dt) Dt f

(Equation 5)

where x is defined at the ratio of the speed of the collapsing walls to the speed of sound.  

Sonoluminescence may thus be an excellent example of the power of Connective Physics.


Connective Physics         Superconductivity         Chaos Theory

Forward to:

Mass         Experiment         Cold Fusion         Nikola Tesla



[1]  Antia, M. “Son et Lumiere”, The Sciences, July/August, 1997, pg. 10.

[2] Putterman, S.J., “Sonoluminescence: Sound into Light,” Scientific American, February, 1995, pg 46-51.


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