Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Amusing Names for Rheology Models

Physicists have always found a good way to get the general public interested in some of their most arcane research - by using amusing names for things. Subatomic particles have "flavor" and "charm" and "color", words chosen strictly for their general appeal, as no one ever has and ever will lick a quark to see what their flavor is like. In the same vein, color is meaningless in the subatomic world where the wavelengths of light are far too massive to interact with a quark. We can't "see" them with visible light, so they certainly don't come in red, blue or green.

Chemists have not found this pathway - we speak in jargon that only other chemists can hope to understand. But for some strange reason, there are more and more rheological models of polymers and other long molecules that have amusing names. It's long overdue. Look at the history of rheology modeling. There are such beautiful names as the 8-constant Oldroyd model and the Zaremba-Fromm-DeWitt model (ZFD for short), all of which are good for commemerating the discoverers but not for exciting anyone about the model at all. The first big break came from Doi-Edwards - the reptation model, although you would have to know that "reptation" refers to the crawling motion that reptiles make. Things have progressed from there. Larson developed the Pom-Pom model, and now there is the Rolie-Poly model from Likhtman. The problem with this last one is that Rolie-Poly is an acronym for ROuse LInear Entangled POLYmer. But since there is already an extended reptation theory and an extended Pom-Pom theory (plus a modified extended Pom-Pom theory too!), even the best of names don't last long.

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