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Water Vapor vs Steam

Where is the boiling water which is the basis of clouds?

Common vs Technical Definition; "Vapor" & "Steam"

I'm not so sure it's right to equate water vapor with steam. At least in the case of "vapor pressure," the word "vapor" implies a gas--not a foggy suspension of droplets, such as steam. I think in common usage steam counts as water vapor, but I'm not so sure about the usage in physics and chemistry. Wherever the article references the phyical chemical constants that apply to water vapor, I think the substance should not be described in way that that does not apply to whatever substance physical chemists mean when they title a column in a book of constants "water vapor" 168...

Common usage of "steam"

It is easy to confuse a condensate with a vapor in saturation: ie. steam. RadarCzar

I'm not sure what your point is above. That we shouldn't blame anybody for the mistake? Or that it's not a mistake?168... 02:26, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)

RadarCzar, I think you just wrote "if steam is visible, it is still a gas." How can that be? Single water molecules aren't visible, only droplets, so far as I know. And conventionally at least you only have a gas when you have molecules moving around free of one another. 168... 02:31, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)

What Steam Is Technically

168..., The actual physical description of steam may exceed the purpose and nature of this article. Its not merely a description of a vapor, but more of an example of a thermodynamic process. Steam is a gaseous vapor in an excited state and may be in a locally super-saturated state. In other words, collisions are occuring so frequently, that molecules can collide and stick together temporarily. The the psuedo-condensates then fly apart because of their energy levels (temperature). I say 'pseudo' because a vapor condensing can imply an overall temperature exchange. Ok, that can sound like a loose argument, but if steam were a condensate, then it would 'rain' around a boiling pot of water, and not vanish into the air. Of course this is a room temperature process I just described with a very simplified explanation. For a more thorough derivation, look into a book on thermodynamics of gases. Also, steam can occur during sublimation processes at temperatures close to or below freezing. Maybe an article on steam should be written?

As far as my previous comment, there was no blame directed anywhere, just a comment directed at the difficulty in describing steam, clouds, fog, etc. RadarCzar

Also, beware of my term 'temperature exchange', as the energy of the steam comes from kinetic as well as internal energies of the molecules. According to the Equipartition Theorem, energy and temperature are related. And there is an exchange of energy upon collision with other molecules. The molecules involved in this process are Nitrogen, Oxygen, and unseen water vaper all at room temperature and other water molecules at boiling temperature. RadarCzar

Thanks for the elaboration, RadarCzar, which gives me a much better idea where you're coming from. On the other hand, you haven't quite won me over to your choice of wording. I take your point that steam's microdroplets are made from fleeting aggregates of molecules, and your point that there's hot vapor in the mix too, and your point that the atmosphere above the pot is supersaturated with water; but to me all this implies is that above the pot we have a heterogenous phase, one component of which is visible droplets, however short-lived, and yet still it's only the droplets that the ordinary person sees when he or she looks above the pot and calls it "steam" ("steam" is the visible stuff, in common speach is what I think). Meanwhile, I'm sorry I did an instantaneous revert of one of your edits, which I wouldn't have done if I'd seen you were here at the talk page discussing things. Your edit removed content, but you justified it as for the sake of accuracy and to eliminate redundancy, which as I said in the heading of my revert I don't see at all. Would you mind saying what was wrong and repetitive? 168... 00:10, 18 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Overhauled to replace blobby facts with smooth flow

Overall, its hard to specify in the summary what I was viewing as repetitive. The entire article was becoming, for the lack of a better word,...'blobby'. Yes a lot of good ideas and topics were introduced, but the overall order was incredibly lacking making it difficult to read or comprehend, if one did not already have an understanding of the topic. Also, I took the time to browse through the old edits, to try to get at where this article was headed.

So, I did a major overhaul, put the simple concepts in the beginning, and introduced two new subtopics to be slashed, mangled, and changed--improved. Maybe it will spark more subtopics and/or better content. Really, it was a case of alot of authors and little direction.

So, I don't really take all credit in new content, but just shuffling it all into something more coherent. RadarCzar

Stability of Water Vapor

I might view steam as being unstable. However, I am less likely to believe that water vapor is unstable. Especially since its presence in the atmosphere is directly linked to various heat (and energy) transfer processes. RadarCzar

You sound like you are arguing against someone who says water vapor is unstable, but tI don't think anybody has said anything but the opposite. Is this what you think? Could you clarify?168... 05:32, 18 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I Thought Old Version Much Better

Golly, it's amazing views can differ so much. I thought it was MUCH better before you went to work on it. Unfortunately I don't have time now to go at it. I'd rather just revert, but I guess that's not kosher. 168... 03:40, 18 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Ambiguity Issue

But, I also took the phrasing, "...one of three basic states in which water molecules can stably exist en masse and in pure form... " as being ambiguous. RadarCzar

What do you think it might be understood to mean that's wrong? 168... 05:26, 18 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Reversion or Discussion

168..., As you have stated "I'd rather just revert", and done so without discussion or mention of validation, I have edited mercilessly on a point by point basis correcting inaccuracies as I go. I am basing all corrections on the Natural Laws of the Universe. As such, I will not discuss those physical laws on a point by point basis with someone who reverts without realizing their own mistake or first without discussing it in this forum first when the thermodynamics are obviously misunderstood by yourself. But, if you can't tell, I find that annoying. RadarCzar

Yes, I can tell you're annoyed, but you also seem to be criticizing me for things you started, which is to change scientific points without making a case for them. What are these ambiguities you mentioned without spelling them out, for example? You seem to accuse me of simply reverting, when actually I worked painstakingly with what you'd done. The only reverting I did was of specific portions that you had deleted without any real justification (e.g. never spelling out the ambiguities you alleged). You're also acting like you're the only person whose studied thermodynamics around here, which is audacious, not to mention wrong. We're disagreeing about the right way to _simplify_ something and you're assuming that's simply because the person you disagree with is an ignoramus with no idea the truth is more complicated. It may be I'm ignorant about something you have in mind, but show me the courtesy of explaining it. I can tell you right off from looking at your first paragraph that one of our differences of opinion comes down to different senses of the word "state." You obviously understood it in the sense of "equation of state", while I was using it as a plain-speech substitute for the more jargony "phase." In this sense water at it's triple point is three states and not one, as you counted it. We could work such stuff out if you were willing to take the time. 168... 06:26, 19 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Focus on Water Vapor

I think some of this info should be in the water page, and some in the water cycle page. A little more focus on water vapor is needed here.
The "water vapor in the atmosphere" section should stay here, so the info about the size of WV contribution to the greenhouse effect is gathered in one place and umpteen estimates of percent of contribution are not splattered across many other pages. (SEWilco 07:37, 19 Aug 2003 (UTC))

Limit to 3 phases of water

If you mean the recent stuff that goes beyond the 3 phases, I agree. I assume that RadarCzar put that there to make a point, by way of reductio ad absurdum. 168... 22:13, 19 Aug 2003 (UTC)

168's Style

I agree with the fact that some of this info should not be here in its entirety. But, I strongly oppose 168's ability to communicate facts, arguments, or reasoning ability. If I can not keep up with incorrect editing and trying to explain that those edits were inaccurate, ambiguous, and/or fractured, and get hammered with ridiculous, illogical, and unscientific arguments, then I say please explain yourself and reductio ad absurdum. RadarCzar

Like en masse, "reductio ad absurdum" is in good dictionaries, but I assumed most people knew what it meant. Neither word is "jargon" (as you called "en masse") although they may be a little obscure. In case you really don't know what they mean (you asked me to explain) "reductio ad absurdum" means to reduce to the point of absurdity--and arguing against a point by r.a.d. means to show that its implications are absurd. 168... 02:40, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

First Paragraphs of 2 Versions

I edited:

"Water vapor is the gas phase of water, one of three basic states in which water molecules can stably exist en masse and in pure form (ice and liquid water are the others). The gaseous form is water's thermodynamically stable state at temperatures above 100 °C or 212 °F and at pressures equal to or below standard atmospheric pressure (see water (phase diagram)). Water vapor can be produced either by evaporation or sublimation."

To read:

"Water vapor is the gas phase of water. Ice, solid phase, and water, liquid phase, are the others. Water vapor can be produced either by evaporation or sublimation." RadarCzar

Edit War

And I gave reasons as quickly as possible, but not loudly enough, as 168 immediately reverted it back without reason. Come on! Don't accuse me of things YOU are doing.

If you're doing them, it's fair that I accuse you. Anyway, what I actually talked about was who "started it." The way things unfolded has everything to do with what irritated both of us. 168...
 Look, I tried to replaced 168's inaccurate jargony phrasing intitially with correct, plain and concise wording.  Do not try to claim that yourself, 168, as it is logged.  
This is slander by insinuation. You're suggesting I would intentionally lie about my actions. Go stuff it.168...

It seems the only way I could get 168 to stop reverting to the inaccurate jargony wording was to link as many topics on this page as possible that have relevance to this topic. RadarCzar

Cooling and Condensing

Slander again to label my last major edit as "reverting," and wishful thinking to say your jargon satisfied me. Actually, I thought it was absurd, as I mentioned above, but I laid off because you were obviously incensed and a cooling off period seemed to be appropriate. Very early on I did one hotheaded revert that I apologized for, but which I still view as not entirely unjustified, because you removed content with only a seemingly flip explanation in the subject line of your post. Regarding my later edits to the first paragraph you quote above, my issues were that you removed a lot of content and you wrote a second sentence I found clunky. I accepted your changes as a sign that what I had written was in some way unclear, so when I replaced the content I significantly changed the wording in the hope of satisfying your inadequately articulated objections. It's totally unfair to call this reverting. For the record, note the insuffrable tone of your earlier posts in which you portray the article as a badly written disaster and you as its savior. 168... 168...

Water Vapor P-T Conditions

The above paragraph I edited is ambiguous because:

it implies water vapor only exists in one region of the P-T graph stably, but that is not true, you should check with a valid P-T phase graph RadarCzar
I disagree. Strictly it implies only that a pure collection of water molecules exists stably in as vapor and in neither of the other two phases under the conditions stated. Is that false? I notice that more or less the same sentence has remained unchanged through your many recent edits. 168...

I came to agree about this point. I'm pasting here my post about that (below). After posting it I made a change to the wording of the article, which reflected my appreciation of the point. It didn't take a big change. 168... 21:16, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Ahh. But I see one way I was thinking fuzzily. In my water in the jar example you have pure water in two states in equilibrium, so of course you have two states "stable" under the one condition, it's just the liquid is more stable. So that sentence I wrote does have a problem. 168... 05:54, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Lay Person Audience or Thoroughly Precise Phrasing

"en masse" is jargony and non-specific
I find that a preposterous opinion. So far that's just you against me.168...
"three basic states" implies confusion between macrostates and matter phases or even microstatesRadarCzar
In my case it implied writing for the lay person. I don't think most readers would be confused as you were, and I don't think even the technically versed would suffer more than a momentarily furrowed a brow. Of course, in the process of writing there's a temptation to be a stickler for the technical meanings, which is what I take you to be doing in this case. 168...


the topic of purity is non-relevant unless it is defined exactly, it also creates confusion of non-pure states of gas, liquid, and solid phase which exist in the real world RadarCzar
That's another one that's just your opinion against mine so far. "Pure" is a common word that I used in a common sense and I don't see any need for a definition. Perhaps the meaning of the sentence wasn't crystal clear, but calling for an elaborate definition of "purity" seems like a funny way to express that view.168...
Do you mean "pure" as a system of only water molecules?
That's how I took its meaning. RadarCzar
Yep, that's what I meant. So what's the problem?168... 04:03, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)
OK, do you mean the phases only exist in pure form of water? RadarCzar
I meant pure water can exist stable as ice, liquid water and water vapor, depending on the circumstances. I'm also happy to admit that dilute aqueous solutions look a lot like liquid water and that sea ice is a lot like ice and that humid air is a lot like water vapor, but I'd belive some caution is appropriate in referring to these mixtures by the name of the pure phases. 168... 04:40, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Visibility of Water Vapor

Concerning the visibility of water vapor--it is visible in high concentrations, RH >90%, and it is still a gas. RadarCzar

I don't know what RH stands for. What do you mean visible? Do you mean schlieren? Or do you mean the vapor has color and/or opacity? 168...

RH is Relative Humidity. RadarCzar

Steam is a Gas

Also, steam is a gas, otherwise steam engines would not work.RadarCzar

Or steam engines produce not only steam but vapor. When I changed the text to call steam a mixture of vapor and microscopic droplets, you did not object that this is inaccurate.168...
Right, can you analyze steam? RadarCzar
I don't know what you're getting at. Why analyze steam? 168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Comments on Editing

Ok, maybe you're not ignorant, but I did stop you from reverting in a reactionary manor. RadarCzar

Thanks for the concession. Yes, you made your anger plain and it's the squeeky wheel that gets the oil. Doesn't prove you couldn't have accomplished the same thing through diplomacy. 168... 02:40, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Well, you were confused at my attempt at diplomacy when you say, "insuffrable tone of your earlier posts in which you portray the article as a badly written disaster and you as its savior". RadarCzar

Let's Get Technical

Also, see Gibbs phase rule concerning the state of Triple point. Try not to confuse macrostate, microstate, phase, and degrees of freedom. RadarCzar

See my comments above about "state." As I expected you to understood from my earlier post, I know what the triple point is, and it's more accurate to say that you were confused about the sense in which I meant it, and not I who need a lesson about triple point and technical terms. 168... 02:51, 20 Aug 2003 (UTC)
Well? How is one to tell without getting into technical terms? RadarCzar
A reasonable point out of context. But in this context, I had already used a technical term in proposing my theory of how our disagreement rested on two senses of "state." I said you were reading it in the sense of "equation of state." You seem to have accepted my theory of our disagreement, and so I take your reference to additional technical terms as gratuitous and an attempt to establish yourself a) as the author of the theory and b) as the dominant authority on the science, which I found irritating. Thanks for asking. 168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Pressure and Temperature Influence

Perhaps most of the initial paragraph, which is an overly detailed definition of the conditions under which water vapor exists, should be in a "Pressure and Temperature Influence" section. SEWilco 16:47, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I don't think the technicality is excessive given the subject. Would you talk about ice without referencing 0 degrees Celsius? I think it's apt to tell readers in effect when and where they'll find this substance they've come to learn about, and it only takes a couple numbers to do that. I think the average person who dares to ask what "water vapor" is isn't numerophobic. 168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Clarifications done

OK...last portions of editing done for clarity and to reduce immediate and excessive jargon usage...that I put there last... RadarCzar

Suggested Changes

(William M. Connolley 10:57, 16 Aug 2003 (UTC)) The clouds description is embarrassingly poor and needs improvement sometime.

I suggest striking that because I radically changed the clouds content shortly after that post.168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

No, I don't think this deserves striking...just yet. RadarCzar 23:01, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)

So for now let the record state that you consider the parts about clouds embarrassingly poor. I encourage you to have a go at it, since it still bothers you. I did my bit. 01:23, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Headers Added

This Talk was getting hard to follow. I identified topics and added headers. That's all I did in this edit other than move the "clouds description" to the end because it seemed to not fit where it was, and is a suggestion for the future. SEWilco 17:25, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Helpful, I think. Thanks for investing the energy. 168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)
I changed the title of a few section headings, e.g. when I thought they didn't capture the point. I also signed user names to posts whose authorship may be unclear after sectioning and striking out.168... 01:55, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Removal of Old Discussion

I struck out material which seems to be no longer needed on this page. Consider whether it should be removed. SEWilco 17:43, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Your choices are fine with me. I guess they don't deserve archiving, although I think that's the custom. 168... 21:04, 22 Aug 2003 (UTC)
My intent was to archive, then remove strikeouts so the remaining discussions can continue in a less cluttered fashion. By showing the changes people have been making adjustments before alterations. SEWilco

Space Water

I think the material about water vapor in space might be interesting, but I find it unclear and it doesn't seem at all oriented to water vapor. I think it needs some work, but since I don't understand it well, I'll leave that to others.168...

Hmmm, water vapor is not associated to water vapor...are you in some way alluding to say that water molecules are fermions?? RadarCzar 06:36, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)


I suggest to William M. Connolley that you resist the temptation to characterize other people's written explanations as insane, as you did in the heading of a recent post. It's not civil, and it doesn't teach anything to the allegedly crazed author, assuming you do have something to teach. 168... 01:23, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC) 01:23, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Cloud Effect Complexity

I changed "complex" to "warming and cooling," because that made the paragraph more readable. Is that accurate? I suppose clouds also add a lot of heat capacity, so perhaps "warming, cooling and buffering" might be appropriate. If at all possible, I think it's best to avoid "complex" and to be explicit, even if only about the generalities. 168... 01:23, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Actually, "complex" is correct. Clouds, not only shield (mostly), they also blanket (mostly). Heat capacity?? No, the thermal energies are moved vertically and clouds are formed, thus adding more complexity. RadarCzar 06:36, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)