#235: Vibration visible

Engineers expend a lot of effort trying to preserve plant against the damaging effects of vibration. There is a whole world of vibration monitoring kit out there but today’s invention is a new way to address this issue.

It’s well known that, when you have a cylindrical container containing particles, the biggest will rise to the top if the cylinder is subject to vibration. It’s called the Brazil nut effect (think of what happens when a box of muesli is transported on the back of a lorry to a supermarket).


So my proposal is to create a cylindrical, transparent tube full of particles which are coloured by size. Attach this to eg some piece of high-value rotating kit offshore for a while -until the mixture has had a chance to stratify. Invert the cylinder and, under the action of the vibration, a sequence of colours will appear on the top surface.

If the largest particles are coloured red, eventually, the top surface will turn bright red, at which point it’s time for new bearings, or at least an oil change.

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