1834 – soliton

A soliton is a waveform that appears more like a lump or pulse than a conventional wave. In 1834, a Scottish engineer named Scott Russell noticed that the bow wave caused by a boat in a canal continued after the boat was suddenly stopped. Russell followed the wave on horseback for over a mile along the canal before it began to dissipate. Russell studied this form of solitary wave and named it the “Wave of Translation”.

PRECURSOR:
-0287 – Archimedes
1687 – theory of water waves in “Principia” – Newton
1738 – “Hydrodynamica” – Bernoulli
1757 – equations of hydrodynamics in “Principes géneraux du mouvement des fluides” – Euler
1815 – work on surface wave propagation – Cauchy and Poisson

CONCURRENT:
1841 – “Tides and Waves” – Airy

SUBSEQUENT:
1876 – paper on travelling waves “On Waves”- Strutt (Rayleigh)
1895 – Korteweg–de Vries equation
1965 – “Interaction of Solitons” – Zabusky & Kruskal
1973 – solitons in optical fibers – Hasegawa
2000 – vector solition – Cundiff

SEE ALSO:
timeline of fluid mechanics
THE ORIGINS OF WATER WAVE THEORY
First unchanging ‘soliton’ wave found in space

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