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I'm translating a description of a lyophilization procedure. One of the sentences goes like this, in my translation:

After keeping the samples in the vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually relieved the vacuum, removed the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

I picked "relieve" from "vacuum relief valve". Is it okay to say "we gradually relieved the vacuum" though? The vacuum is hardly relieved, it is gone.

I found that we can say that we "broke" the vacuum:

After keeping the samples in the vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually broke the vacuum, removed the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

But here the word "gradually" may clash with "break". Breaking is usually an abrupt process.

What other word could be used? "We gradually removed the vacuum"?

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    broke seems sudden. I would use "we gradually released the vacuum", if it works like releasing air from a balloon. – user3169 Aug 31 '16 at 4:22
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    I agree with @user3169's suggestion of "release the vacuum". Here is an example of the term in 'real-world' use: How to release the vacuum in a CRT safely. – Lawrence Aug 31 '16 at 4:25
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    @CowperKettle Yes, gradually restoring the pressure also works. – Lawrence Aug 31 '16 at 4:28
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    @Lawrence - it's the "inversion technique" mentioned in any technical translation textbook. (0: – CowperKettle Aug 31 '16 at 4:31
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    Relieved is spot on. Why do you think it can be improved upon? – P. E. Dant Sep 2 '16 at 6:56
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I'd go for a post-positioned adverb so that it clearly modifies only relieved:

"...we relieved the vacuum gradually, removed the samples quickly, and as fast as humanly possible submitted them for processing"

P.S. Relieved is fine. A vacuum that is broken is relieved all of a sudden.

Obviously it's the pot-smoking beatniks and hippies who started saying "release the vacuum".

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+150

I would use either: 'We gradually reduced the vacuum' or 'We gradually decreased the vacuum'.

As long as you are not in outer space, vacuum is a drop in air pressure relative to normal air pressure. Reducing or decreasing vacuum implies that you gradually restore your samples to normal air pressure.

  • I think 'reduced' is the better option. 'Relieve' has a slight implication that the existence of the vacuum was an undesirable state. – Johns-305 Sep 5 '16 at 4:12
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After keeping the samples in the vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually relieved the vacuum, removed the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

I'd say "restored atmospheric pressure". Ideally you give a bit more detail. Was ordinary humid air from the room used to bring the pressure up, or dry nitrogen from a tank.

2

Here it is. You got to think outside the box.

What's in a vacuum? Nothing. Fill the vacuum. Now you have something: oxygen.

"...we gradually filled the vacuum."

Fill. v.

: to make (something) full

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/filled

1

Using broke seems sudden compared to a gradual change.

I would use release, for example:

I released (gradually let out) air from a balloon.

So for your example:

After keeping the samples in the vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually released the vacuum, removed the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

1

This question requires both knowledge in English language and in physics.

From physics stand point, vacuum doesn't have the characteristics of air, thus it cannot be "released", "broken", "relieved", etc.

"Vacuum is space void of matter. An approximation to such vacuum is a region with a gaseous pressure much less than atmospheric pressure. Physicists often discuss ideal test results that would occur in a perfect vacuum, which they sometimes simply call "vacuum" or free space, and use the term partial vacuum to refer to an actual imperfect vacuum as one might have in a laboratory or in space. In engineering and applied physics on the other hand, vacuum refers to any space in which the pressure is lower than atmospheric pressure" - Wikipedia

So going back to the question I would suggest the following translation:

After keeping the samples in vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually pressurised them, removed them from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

  • pressurised them how? By filling the weightless vacuum with some oxygen molecules for weight and to gradually increase the pressure as the force of gravity presses down on more molecules filling up, and more weight being applied--directly proportional is the increase in force to the increase in the weight.. General science. I studied it, but am I right? Or do I have to dig my HS book out? – Arch Denton Sep 5 '16 at 4:15
  • Maybe repressurized? – Peter Sep 5 '16 at 5:45
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In your sentence, the vacuum can be

broken

meaning the pressure is increased to atmospheric pressure.

After keeping the samples in a vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually broke the vacuum, removed the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

In Lyophilization of Parenteral

Breaking Vacuum is defined as

Admitting air or a selected gas to an evacuated chamber, while isolated from a vacuum pump, to raise the pressure towards, or up to, atmospheric.

In White Paper: Recovering Lyophilised Anaerobes, in the first paragraph

At the end of the process the vacuum is broken, nitrogen gas replaces the vacuum, and the tubes or vials sealed.

This question uses break

How can I break the vacuum of a Ultra High Vacuum chamber?

You might also use

remove

Although your sentence already uses "removed the samples from the shelves".
Your sentence might read

After keeping the samples in a vacuum for 24 hours, we gradually removed the vacuum, took the samples from the shelves, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

or more succinctly

After keeping the samples in a vacuum for 24 hours, we removed them from the vacuum chamber, and submitted them for subsequent processing.

by implication, in order to remove the samples from the vacuum chamber, the vacuum would need to be done away with.

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While it would seem that there is conventional usage here, if you are uncomfortable with it, the reason is probably that you are attempting to describe what was done to the emptiness of a container rather than what was done to the container.

If you were describing an apple basket that had been emptied of apples and then refilled, you would not say that you removed the emptiness of the basket by adding apples, you would say that you filled the basket with apples. Similarly here you could say that you repressurized the vessel (with ?).

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