Turbulence yields secrets to 73-year-old experiment
A simple but groundbreaking experiment performed more than 70 years ago finally has been explained by scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The solution sheds new light on fluid turbulence -- the last major unsolved problem in classical physics.
"Turbulence is the jittery, swirling behavior of a gas or liquid when flowing next to a wall or around an obstacle," said Gustavo Gioia, a professor of theoretical and applied mechanics at Illinois. "Although most of the flows that surround us in everyday life are turbulent flows over rough walls, these flows have remained one of the least understood phenomena of classical physics."
In 1933, Johann Nikuradse carefully measured the friction a fluid experiences as it is forced through a pipe at varying speeds. Nikuradse found that the friction gets smaller as the speed gets larger, but then surprisingly increases at high speeds before attaining a constant value. This mysterious behavior, which must be taken into account by engineers in applications ranging from airplanes to oil pipelines, has now been explained.
In a paper to appear in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters, Gioia and graduate student Pinaki Chakraborty show how this behavior arises from fundamental properties of the way in which energy is distributed among the swirling eddies that populate a turbulent flow.
"As a result of our theoretical explanation, engineers can now calculate the friction force found along rough walls, rather than rely upon a chart or table based on the Nikuradse data," Chakraborty said.
In related work, to appear in the same issue of Physical Review Letters, Illinois physics professor Nigel Goldenfeld shows how the behavior implies that the turbulent state is not random, but contains subtle statistical correlations that are similar to those known to exist at phase transitions, such as the onset of magnetism in crystals.
"These findings suggest a new tack for theorists trying to understand turbulence," Goldenfeld said. "The roughness of the pipe walls is important and affects the flow in ways previously overlooked."
The researchers hope that as a result of these discoveries, the approaches that solved the problem of phase transitions will now find a new application in providing a fundamental understanding of turbulence.
James E. Kloeppel | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...