The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere III. Pervective power

Michael Connolly1, Ronan Connolly1*
1 Dublin, Ireland.
* Corresponding author. E-mail:
air_exp_setupA previously-overlooked mechanism for energy transmission throughout the atmosphere is presented and characterised. This mechanism, which we have named pervection, involves the transmission of mechanical energy through a mass – in this case, the atmosphere. It is distinct from convection in that it does not require mass transport. It is also distinct from conduction in that conduction involves the transmission of thermal energy, not mechanical energy. The current atmospheric models assume that energy transmission in the atmosphere is dominated by radiation and convection, and have until now neglected pervection.

Experiments were carried out to measure the rate of energy transmission by pervection in air. It was found that pervection is rapid enough (39.4 ± 0.9 m s-1) to ensure the troposphere, tropopause and stratosphere remain in thermodynamic equilibrium. This contradicts a fundamental assumption of the current atmospheric models which assume the atmosphere is only in local thermodynamic equilibrium.

M. Connolly, and R. Connolly (2014). The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere III. Pervective power, Open Peer Rev. J., 25 (Atm. Sci.), ver. 0.1 (non peer reviewed draft). URL:
First submitted on: January 8, 2014. This version submitted on: January 8, 2014

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Peer Reviews

  1. I can’t see anywhere in the experimental description an account of the effect of the increased water level in the glass jar resulting from the displacement of water caused by the injection of the air into the left cylinder. This will exert an additional pressure on the air in both cylinders. Thus the head of pressure of the water in the glass bowl is assisting the equilibriation of the air pressures in the cylinders by forcing water back into the left cylinder. This will affect the calculation of the speed of ‘pervection’ in air.

  2. The speed of pervection calculated will also depend on the diameter of the connecting tube. The smaller the diameter the higher the velocity of the air moving to equalise the pressure difference between the cylinders, following air injection. The higher the velocity, the greater the losses due to turbulence (which will mostly end up as heat lost to the environment via conduction through the tube walls).

  3. Hi Rog Tallbloke,
    Thank you for your constructive comments. You are correct in pointing out that we did not include a discussion of the points you raised. These are valid concerns which should be addressed, and so we will include some discussion of these issues in Section 4 when we are updating to the next version of our article (version 0.2).

    With regards to your first comment, you are correct that the injection of air into the left cylinder will slightly increase the water level in the glass jar, which will in turn exert additional pressure on the air in both cylinders. However, for our experiments, the net effects of this on our calculations would have been smaller than the experimental errors. There are several reasons:

    1. The total surface area of the water surface in the glass jar was approximately 183cm2. So, the rise in water level in the jar which would have occurred from the displacement of 10cm3 of air would only be 10/183 = 0.055cm. The corresponding change in water height in the left cylinder for 10cm3 of air was 1.74cm (a volume of 100cm3 corresponded to a height of 17.4cm for our graduated cylinders). So, the magnitude of the glass jar water level change was only about 3% of the cylinder water level changes.

    2. We argue that the driver of pervection in our experiments is the pressure difference between the two cylinders. While the changes in water level in the glass jar would alter the pressure in both cylinders, both cylinders would be affected by the same amount, i.e., it would not alter the pressure difference.

    3. Having said that, our calculations of the speed of pervection were not actually derived from the pressure differences, but rather from the lag times between the behaviour in the two cylinders. Compared to the lag times of 2-3s in our experiment (see Figure 6 and Table 3), the rapid re-equilibration of the glass jar water levels is almost instantaneous.

    4. If you look at the responses in the Right cylinder, the pressure changes during the different regimes (R1 and R2) seem to be approximately linear (e.g., see Figure 6). This suggests that (for our experiments at least), the speed of pervection is somewhat independent of the pressure difference. While this initially might seem to contradict point 2 above, where we suggested that pressure difference is the driver of pervection, it is not too surprising. After all, with sound (which has some similarities to pervection), the speed of sound is independent of the driver of the sound, i.e., “a noise”.

    With regards to your second comment, the speed of kinetic convection depends on the diameter of the connecting tube. However, this does not necessarily apply to the speed of pervection. Again, if we use the analogy of sound (which has some similarities to pervection), the speed of sound in air is relatively independent of the diameter of the acoustic transmission tubes.

    Remember, unlike kinetic convection which is a “with-mass” energy transmission mechanism, pervection is a “through-mass” energy transmission mechanism. So, many of the standard experimental results which apply to convection do not necessarily apply to pervection.

    It is true that turbulence affects the energy transfer ability of kinetic convection – mainly due to the conversion of translational energy to rotational energy. However, this does not necessarily apply to pervection. Indeed, as we discuss in Section 4 (see p12-13), we speculate that pervection is due to the preservation of translational energy, and therefore does not create turbulence.

    Does this discussion clarify matters? If so, if we added a short discussion along these lines to the article, do you think this would satisfactorily resolve these particular issues?

  4. In the case of rock drilling (with which I am familiar), it is known that the energy transfer from the impacting hammer, through the drill rod, to the drill bit occurs through elastic pressure waves, propagating at the speed of sound through the drill rod. This mechanism is presumably also operating in the two mechanical analogies (Newton’s cradle and a stonemason working on stone with a mallet and steel chisel) to pervection in the atmosphere, provided in the subject paper. In light of this energy transmission mechanism and with reference to publications studying, theoretically as well as experimentally, the propagation of sound in narrow tubes, it is concluded that the pervection experiments described in the subject paper also should be interpreted as (elastic) pressure pulses propagating at the speed of sound through the tube. The observed, strongly reduced pulse velocity in the experiments (as compared to the speed of sound in free air), is (mainly) the result of viscous interaction between the moving gas in the pressure pulse and the tube wall. It is consequently suggested to consider this physical mechanism as explanation of the pervection mechanism also for “through-mass” transfer of mechanical energy (or work) in the free atmosphere. For details, see attached PDF

    Extended review/comment OPRJ_comment_Pervection_Slycke.pdf

  5. The obvious choice for multimers in the upper troposphere is H2O. And this is a result of the hydrogen bond (not a covalent bond). N2 and O2 don’t form multimers. Multimers of H2O are the structure (pervection) in our atmosphere manifested in the jet stream. Surface tension of water is “ratcheted up” (in multimers of H2O [this is the phase change], the exact mechanism for which I prefer to keep secret at the moment) and it is the ensuing structure (pervection) that explains the missing lubrication (Lorenz) in our atmospheric circulation.

    The fact that you recognize the issues discussed in these three papers show me that you are head and shoulders ahead of all the pretenders out there.

    I think you guys are on the right track. But multimers of N2 O2 are a dead end. Multimers of H2O is the key. Understanding how H2O can form multimers and be stable is the key to understanding how they can release the ratcheted up surface tension that forms the structure (pervection) that is most plainly apparent in the jet stream.

    The precise mechanism by which H2O forms multimers in our atmosphere and thereby provides the structure (pervection) in our atmosphere will be revealed in my book, coming out in June.

    Jim McGinn

  6. Hi Jim McGinn,
    Thank you for your comment and your support. However, there are a number of problems with your analysis, most of which seem to be due to a misinterpretation of our papers:

    1. In this paper, “The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere III. Pervective power”, we were attempting to measure pervection. This is a mechanism for “through-mass” mechanical energy transmission, and is not an atmospheric “structure”, as you suggest. We discuss multimerization in a different paper: “The physics of the Earth’s atmosphere II. Multimerization of atmospheric gases above the troposphere”.

    2. In our “multimerization” paper, we were not arguing for multimerization in the upper troposphere. Instead, we were suggesting that multimerization occurs above the troposphere, i.e., in the tropopause/stratosphere regions. This corresponds with the tropopause/troposphere phase change which we identified in our Paper I, and is our proposed explanation for the phase change.

    3. The tropopause/stratosphere regions are relatively dry (in absolute humidity), and so your proposed changes in water structure are unlikely to explain the sharp change in molar density behaviour we identified.

    4. I agree with you that this multimerization does not involve covalent bond formation. As we discuss in Section 2.2 of our Paper 2, we suggest that it involves van der Waals interactions.

    5. Hydrogen bonds are very important for liquid and solid H2O, and “multimerization” is in effect an intermediate stage between gas “monomers” and liquids. So, if there were H2O multimers, then it is quite likely that hydrogen bonds would be involved. Indeed, Keutsch & Saykally, 2001 have already carried out some work on this. But, we already know that liquid and solid H2O exist in the troposphere, i.e., clouds. And there have already been a few studies finding at least dimers of water in the atmosphere, e.g., Pfeilsticker et al., 2003, so I am not convinced that if H2O multimers are substantial, that they would be exclusive to the jet stream. Moreover, the tropopause/troposphere phase change occurs for all regions, not just in the jet stream regions.

    We think that all of the above points are actually already adequately covered in the original drafts of our papers. So, we do not think any modifications are necessary to address your comments.

    On a separate note, I have had a look at your Solving Tornadoes website. Like you, we are not satisfied with the current explanations for tornado/storm formation or jet steam formation – the proposed mechanisms involve too much hand-waving. In our Paper II, we suggest that these processes are related to changes in the troposphere/tropopause phase transition (see Section 3.4). If you haven’t already read that section, you might find our discussion there relevant for your research.

  7. Hi Jan Slycke,

    Thank you for your very positive and constructive review. This paper was originally supposed to be just an “exploratory study” of pervection. One of the main purposes was to point out that “through-mass” mechanical energy transmission (i.e., pervection) can be a very substantial mechanism for energy transmission in the atmosphere which is not considered by the current atmospheric models, and to highlight methods which could be used for further study.

    However, having considered your detailed review, we agree that it would probably be useful to incorporate more specific discussion of the potential mechanisms for pervection, including a discussion of the relationship of sound to pervection.

    We will write a more detailed response to you later, but since I was replying to Jim McGlinn, I thought I should also write this preliminary response to you.

  8. Hi Ronan,

    Thank you for the thoughtful response.

    You guys are so close to a major breakthrough that I kind of feel bad that it is going to seem like I’m stealing your thunder when my book comes out in June.

    1. What conclusion should your audience draw from the fact that the only way you are able to demonstrate pervection is through structure (tubes, etc.)?

    2. Well, I was extremely impressed that you (correctly IMO) identified that discrete boundary at the top of the troposphere as being, specifically, the boundary between the troposphere and the tropopause (and not that of the tropopause and the stratosphere). But you are overlooking the most important factor: the fact that the stratosphere is dry and the troposphere is moist.

    3. There are three factors necessary for the emergence of structure in the atmosphere, 1) dry air on one side of a smooth boundary 2) moist air
    on the other side of the smooth boundary (droplets, not steam), and 3) Windshear along these smooth boundaries. The place in our atmosphere where these conditions are usually (not always) maximized is at the boundary where the stratosphere (tropopause) and the two Hadley cells of the troposphere meet. And this is why the jet stream is usually found here.

    4. The hydrogen bond has a certain quirkiness to it (which will be explained in my book–sorry for the delay) that makes it a really good candidate for explaining structure in the atmophere. To the best of my knowledge van der Waals interactions lack any such quirkiness (but I’m open to the possibility that I may have overlooked something).

    5. All H2O in our atmosphere is in either the liquid or solid state. There is exactly zero gaseous H2O in our atmosphere. (If anybody suggests otherwise ask them for the empirical evidence and then just laugh as they embarass themselves by resorting to the same evasive tactics we see in AGW groupies.) Stating otherwise is to declare one’s complete abject ignorance of H2O hydrogen bond. The existence of Multimers of H2O along the tropopause/troposphere boundary is NOT dependent on the jetstream being present. (See #3 above.)

  9. Pervection is just another word for leverage. Leverage (according to Archimedes) requires structure. Therefore observations that confirm the existence of pervection/leverage (ie. high speed transfer of energy through the atmosphere) are observations that demonstrate/prove the existence of structure in our atmosphere.

  10. RC: In our Paper II, we suggest that these processes are related to changes in the troposphere/tropopause phase transition (see Section 3.4). If you haven’t already read that section, you might find our discussion there relevant for your research.

    J McG: One big difference we have is that you see the jet stream as an effect and I see it as a (the) cause.

  11. [OPRJ Team: Hi Doug Cotton, if your comment/review is more than a few hundred words, we recommend submitting it as a .pdf attachment, using the instructions provided here.

    Your three comments were quite long (total word count = 1620) and so we have converted them into a single .pdf for you, which can be downloaded here: DougCotton_OPRJ_comment.pdf

    We think using the pdf format for longer comments/reviews makes the peer review section much easier to navigate for readers and other reviewers. In general, we also find that the process of composing comments/reviews in pdf format tends to encourage the reviewer to put more careful consideration into their comment than they would if they are just clicking a “submit” button. This can improve the process for authors, reviewers and readers alike. So, we strongly encourage reviewers to use the pdf format for any comment/review longer than a few hundred words.]

  12. Your paper seems to assume that *energy* is transferred between the cylinders. But it seems like instead some *mass* is transferred instead. Indeed the initial change that you make is the injection of mass. You do not account for this possibility in your analysis.

    Consider a similar experiment where the cylinders are connected by a solid rod sliding inside a straight, lubricated tube. When the air pressure rises in the left cylinder, the rod will be pushed some distance into the right cylinder. In that thought experiment, it is clear that mass rather than energy is moving – because the solid mass of the rod is visible, unlike the clear mass of air in your experiment.

Do you want to submit a review or comment?