# "Tribo-Fatigue" Is this fringe pseudoscience or actual science?

Recently, while reading the wikipedia article on entropy, I came across "Tribo-fatigue entropy" in the interdisciplinary applications section this section seemed suspicious to me; even though there are a lot of mathematical symbols and equations that on the surface seem fine, everything written there has a strange "fringy" quality that makes me suspect it is not really science. Furthermore, all citations correspond to the same russian scientist, someone named "Sosnovskiy", who is supposed to be the creator of a discipline called tribo-fatigue, which I also find suspicious but "scientific on the surface". Because of this, I flagged this content as dubious.

My question is: Is this actually a legit branch of mechanics/thermodynamics that just hasn't caught on in the west? or is this pseudoscience masquerading as the real thing through lots of equations and complex jargon?

I am currently reading some of this material, and I'm almost certain it is the latter, but I thought I would ask here and see if there is anyone who is familiar with it, I wouldn't want to make the mistake of disregarding this as nonesense maybe due to some translation issues that make it difficult to understand and/or prejudice towards less mainstream science before giving it a chance first.

Here I show some examples of strange formulas in the article, taken straight from wikipedia:

"Entropic interpretation of damage" (?)

$$(d_i S)_{TF} = \frac{\gamma_1^{(w)}}{T_\Sigma} \omega_\Sigma dV_{P\gamma}$$

"Change in entropy in a mecanothermodynamic system given by thermodynamic and tribo-fatigue entropies" (?)

\begin{align} dS_{MTD} &= \left[(dS)_{TD} \rightleftarrows (d_i S)_{TF}\right] \\ &= \Lambda_{TD\backslash TF} \left[\left(\frac{dU + p\,dV}{T} - \frac{1}{T}\sum_1^n{\mu\,dN_k}\right)_{TD} + \left(\gamma_1^{(w)}\frac{\omega_\Sigma}{T_\Sigma}dV_{P\gamma}\right)_{TF} \right] \uparrow , \Lambda \lesseqgtr 1. \\ \end{align}

What are the double "equilibrium" arrow, the upwards arrow, the "greater, equal or smaller than 1" and the $$\Lambda$$? This strange proliferation of nonstandard notation seems certainly suspicious to me, I would have been fine with one or two of those on their own, but this seems overkill. However, at least part of the equation is clearly right, it does represent thermodynamic entropy correctly, and I suppose the strange notation can also have developed due to the isolation of the discipline from more mainstream thermodynamics, so I'm also prepared to be proven wrong.

Update: The fact that this russian scientist, according to tribo-fatigue, has papers like "On the possibility of quantitative analysis of good and evil in socio-humanitarian studies" (Ref 62) and "The dialectics of life" (Ref 60) raises some more red flags I think.

Update: I found a non-paywalled paper in english, the journal certainly feels predatory (MDPI entropy) but I could be wrong. I took a glance at the first part of the paper and at least some of the intermediate steps in the equations/derivations seem like they make some sense, but things start to get very complex very quickly, the notation is very nonstandard and self-citations consume most of the paper. At the end of the paper there are two statements which sound extremely pseudoscientific, one of them reads

Effective energy (entropy) flow caused by different-nature sources are non-additive -- They interact dialectically in time

Damage of everything that exists has no conceivable limits

Part of the explanation associated with this last one is:

This corresponds to the philosophical concept that matter and motion are eternal, but the damageability is the fundamental property and the duty of all systems, including living and intelligent

This certainly is very far fetched. I find this fascinating because it seems very strange to me that something as innocent as the study of friction can give way to claims like this, and also because most of the mathematics looks like it makes some sense, and there are very few claims like this that I could find.

I would like to know if this is a legitimate form of thermodynamics speckled with these strange idiosyncratic claims like the "dialectics of life" and "the analysis of good and evil" mentioned before or if it is an extremely well disguised form of pseudoscience, I think this should be a well defined question, these people seem to make definite, claims in their papers and equations, which should be able to be proven right or wrong, I just don't completely understand what these claims are...

• Tribology- yup, that is a thing. Fatigue? That too. Tribo-fatigue? Well, that never came up from any of my tribologists... Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 1:16
• I think what this example illustrates is that there isn't any sharp boundary between science and pseudoscience. There are things that are unquestionably one or the other, and a vast no man's land full of vague statements, low-tier journals, useless formalism, and so on. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 1:57
• That said, I don't think your objections are good ones. If anything with confusing or unconventional notation was pseudoscience, I would have to stop reading half the physics papers I do. For your last quote, I see nothing wrong with it except that the word "dialectically" is awkward here, which is probably a translation issue. Note that there are books on tribo-fatigue and they look just fine to me. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 2:05
• @knzhou the book you uploaded is by the same russian scientist as the other articles. The quote associates entropy with "effective energy", which is certainly nonstandard, and also talks about sources of entropy being nonadditive and "interacting in time". This is a very strong and controversial statement for me at least. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 3:01
• @knzhou I also would not reject this based purely on notation, I just find that SO much nonstandard notation in just two expressions a red flag. Commented Feb 27, 2020 at 3:03

There are a few articles over the last 5 years that use the term tribo-fatigue in their title (4 on Web of Science to be precise as of my search today). All time in WoS one finds 11 papers using 'tribo-fatigue' in the title.

One example is in Wear, a well respected tribology journal. This particular article does not reference Sosnovskiy. Another paper from the same group (in an MDPI journal) references Sosnovskiy but does not actually use anything from the references as far as I could tell.

At best, the concept of interactions between tribology and fatigue appears to be just fine. It seems to be a useful way of thinking about certain mixed-phenomena situations. Whether the mentioned articles and books actually are actually useful in these situations seems to be very much in question.

• This is interesting, I read the article you linked, but I'm not sure that it is associated with this "theory" at all, these articles seem to use none of the equations and concepts from the papers I found (e.g. "dangerous volume", "dialectical lambda interactions"). I think that they just happen to use the same word to describe tribology-fatigue interactions Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 2:13

I combined all my answers into one

• Pseudoscience Tribo-Fatigue? This, of course, is a belated recurrence of heated debate about the status of Tribo-Fatigue. Such disputes almost ended in 1993 at the 1st International Symposium on Tribo-Fatigue (ISTF 1993). Their results were formulated by Vice-President of the Russian Academy of Sciences K.V. Frolov: "... it was in Belarus that a new science was born and is successfully developing – Tribo-Fatigue, one of the most promising branches of mechanics." And a little later, 17 famous scientists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine wrote a book (see 1 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribo-Fatigue), in which, in particular, it says that Tribo-Fatigue is “ scientific sensation. " Brief information on the development of research on Tribo-Fatigue can be found in [Some Events and Main Stages of Tribo-Fatigue Evolution / Compiled by A. V. Kukharev, S. A. Tyurin // Bulletin of BelSUT. 2015. - No. 1 (30). - P. 134-152.].

• A man named “Sosnovsky” is a well-known scientist in the field of mechanics, mechanothermodynamics, philosophy (see, for example, [ https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Сосновский,_Леонид_Адамович ], as well as [Vityaz, P. A., Vysotsky, MS, Zhmailik, VA Mechanical scientist Leonid Adamovich Sosnovskiy (to a scientific biography) // Tribo-Fatigue: Proc. Of VI Intern. Symposium on Tribo-Fatigue ISTF 2010, Minsk, Oct. 25 – Nov. 1, 2010.: in 2 pt. / Belarusian State University; ed. Board.: MA Zhuravkov (prev.) [Et al.]. – Minsk: BSU Press, 2010. – V. 1. – P. 55-64. (In Russian)].

• Strange formulas? In fact, a clear statement of the new concept of “tribo-fatigue entropy” is given. This characteristic is not energy dissipation, as in thermodynamics, but energy absorption, according to the Tribo-Fatigue methodology [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy, section "Interdisciplinary applications of entropy"], [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribo-Fatigue ].

• "Red flags" for the "Russian scientist"? Well no. In fact, the methodology of Tribo-Fatigue, and then Mechanothermodynamics, has become popular in Phi-losophy and socio-humanitarian research. So, at the International Symposium on Tribo-Fatigue (ISTF 2010) in Minsk, a special section “Philosophy, Synergetics and Tribo-Fatigue” worked, the reports of which were published. You can recall the works of famous Belarusian philosophers [Lazarevich, A. A. On the way to the synergy of techno- and biodevelopment: Technosophy and Tribo-Fatigue; Loyko, A. I. Tribo-fatigue and philosophy: strategy of transdisciplinary research; Soroko, E. M. Transdisciplinarity and Tribo-Fatigue; Spaskov, A. N. Genesis, regeneration and non-linear evolution of complex systems in mechanothermodynamic and substantial-informational concepts // Bulletin of BelSUT: Science and Transport. – 2016. – No. 1 (32). – P. 39-58.].

• The symbol (⇄) means the interaction (between objects, damage, energy components, etc.). This notation was also used in the figure in the introduction to the article [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribo-Fatigue ] to illustrate the interaction of the phenomena of wear and fatigue. As far as I know, in the literature there is no more clear and understandable “image” (symbol) for the term “interaction”. In philosophy, this symbol means the struggle of opposites.

• The upward arrow (↑) indicates that the value is steadily increasing. Such a symbol is proposed in addition to the traditional designation “tends to infinity”. Infinity, as you know, is good in mathematics. In the exact (technical) sciences, this is uncertainty, which complicates the interpretation of facts. For example: the number of microstates of a system in thermodynamics can be considered "infinitely large." Then what is entropy equal to? The notation (↑) may mean that the number of microstates “tends to the number of atoms” (or other configurations), and then the entropy is easily calculated by the Boltzmann formula.

• The symbol (⋚) means that in the tribo-fatigue system of Λ-interaction of ir-reversible damage are dialectical in nature. Depending on the conditions of implementation, the interaction results should have three classes of values: 1) if Λ >> 1, spontaneous softening is predominantly detected; 2) if Λ << 1, mainly spontaneous hardening is detected; 3) Λ=1 means a stable state of the system (an invariable ratio of these processes). An illustration of the results of Λ-interactions is given, for example, in Figure 3 in the article [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribo-Fatigue ]. Such interactions are also investigated experimentally on test of the SI-series machines (see Figures 5 and 6 in the same article); test results are presented and analyzed as direct and back effects in Tribo-Fatigue (see the Effects section in the same article). I note that the traditional notation (≥) and (≤) cannot refer to the dialectical processes of the Λ-interaction of phenomena: they characterize (describe) only the unidirectional influence of factors on a change in a given quantity (this pa-rameter).

• About additive and non-additive processes. Here is a little discussion about Λ-interactions on the simplest example. Let independent normal stresses (σ) and frictional stresses (τ) from friction arise in the same zone of the tribo-fatigue system. Can irreversible physical damage caused by them (fatigue, wear) be additive? Of course not. Therefore, they cannot be folded, like the stresses σ and τ. This is well known from theories of strength. Then what are the reasons to think that the parts of the strain energy (Uσeff and Uτeff) absorbed by the system that are caused by normal (σ) and tangential (τ) stresses are additive? Note: not the elastic (Uσe and Uτe), but the absorbed (Uσeff and Uτeff) parts of the total strain energy (Utotal)! Absolutely correct

It is the absorbed part of the energy (UΣeff) that is spent on the formation and accumulation of irreversible damage, which give rise to tribo-fatigue entropy (a characteristic of energy absorption in the system).

• Two principles of Mechanothermodynamics are negatively mentioned 1) Damage of everything that exists no conservable limits. 2) Effective energy flows caused by different nature sources are non-additive – they interact dialectically in time. Their presentation and analysis can be found in [Sosnovskiy, L. A, Sherbakov S. S. Mechanothermodynamics. – Springer, 2016. – 155 p.].

• I will comment on several statements of the participants in the exchange of views. «Tribology – yup, that is a thing. Fatigue? That too. Tribo-Fatigue? Well, that never came up from any of my tribologists...». Maybe it's time to watch? And even get involved in research? «Note that there are books on Tribo-Fatigue and they look just fine to me». Maybe you and your colleagues respect them with attention? This is the same prospect for new and useful research. «Sources of entropy being nonadditive and "interacting in time". This is a very strong and controversial statement for me at least». Strong allegations deserve to understand for yourself whether it is doubtful?

• Here are some interesting thoughts. «At best, the concept of interactions between tribology and fatigue appears to be just fine. It seems to be a useful way of thinking about certain mixed-phenomena situations. Whether the mentioned articles and books actually are actually useful in these situations seems to be very much in question». And I think so. And this is how the Tribo-Fatigue science school works, created by Professor L. A. Sosnovskiy. And I still think: soon a new concept will become demanded and popular in the West. After all, the prospects (in the scientific and practical terms of them) are really fascinating here.

• If not one of your tribologists has told you anything about Tribo-Fatigue, then tell them about it.

• I have been working in the new section of mechanics (Tribo-Fatigue) for more than 25 years. And I express satisfaction that physicists have paid attention to it. It is high time.

Thanks

• Hello serezha, are you by any chance a student of Sosnovsky or any of his disciples? Can you shed light on the specific concrete questions and issues I point out in my post? Commented May 15, 2020 at 7:03
• Unfortunately I don't think I can take your statements as proof of the validity of this discipline. I'm sure you understand that just saying that something is good science in a conference doesn't make it so. Commented May 15, 2020 at 7:06
• I share your opinion. But I note: it is important who said it, and it is very important whether this statement is supported. Over 25 years of research on Tribo-Fatigue, this new and promising branch of Mechanics has been supported by many highly respected scientists and specialists. They worked in 4 countries (Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, China). You can add: to date, 147 scientists from different countries (including 16 Belarusian scientists) have received an Honorary Diploma "For contribution to the development of research on Tribo-Fatigue." Commented May 20, 2020 at 18:34
• I understand your caution and, perhaps, delicacy. But I think you can accept at least some facts. For example, in the Bibliographic Index [Tribo-Fatigue: Bibliographic Index (1985-2015). – Gomel: BelSUT, 2015. – 61 p.] as of 2015, there are 930 Tribo-Fatigue works. To date, their number has increased to 1185 works, including more than 40 books (monographs, study guides, dictionaries, reference books). It can be seen from the Index that a large number of works have been published in the USA, Great Britain, China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, etc. Commented May 20, 2020 at 18:37
• I want to say that I am personally interested in this discussion about Tribo-Fatigue. As for the field of Physics, then L. A. Sosnovsky and S. S. Sherbakov managed to combine (in a first approximation, of course) Thermodynamics and Mechanics, using the methodology of Tribo-Fatigue as an intermediary between them. As a result, they developed the fundamentals of Mechanothermodynamics, a new branch of Physics [ springer.com/gp/book/9783319249797 ], [ researchgate.net/publication/… ] Commented May 20, 2020 at 18:41