The quantitative study of how fluids (gases and liquids) move.

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Did Felix Baumgartner produce a sonic boom during his jump?

I really got to thinking about this. The speed of sound is measured at 761.2 MPH at sea level. But how does this number change as air density decreases? The lack of air density is what allowed his ...
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What is the mystery of turbulence?

One of the great unsolved problems in physics is turbulence but I'm not too clear what the mystery is. Does it mean that the Navier-Stokes equations don't have any turbulent phenomena even if we solve ...
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Why is there a breakdown in Kolmogorov scaling in turbulence?

Why is there a breakdown of Kolmogorov scaling in turbulence? What causes intermittency?
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Cascade in relativistic turbulence

The Kolmogorov theory of turbulence indicates an energy cascade in turbulence. Is there a corresponding version of relativistic fluid?
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Vortex in liquid collects particles in center

At xmas, I had a cup of tea with some debris at the bottom from the leaves. With less than an inch of tea left, I'd shake the cup to get a little vortex going, then stop shaking and watch it spin. ...
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Why $\log \rho$ in the continuity equation?

I just saw the continuity equation, in a manuscript, written as $$\frac{\partial \log \rho }{\partial t} + \vec v \cdot \nabla \log \rho= - \nabla \cdot \vec v.$$ Now, just calculating the derivatives ...
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Is the meander ratio of a river $= \pi$?

To get from point $A$ to $B$, a river will take a path that is $\pi$ times longer than as the crow flies (I think this result is from Einstein). What is the proof of this, and how well does it hold ...
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Are there any liquids with zero surface tension?

Having read the Wikipedia page on superfluids I'm still not sure if stuff like liquid helium at the lambda point actually have surface tension or not. Is superfluidity the same thing? And are there ...
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Compressibility and the form of Newton's second law in fluid mechanics

In deriving Euler's equations for fluid mechanics, in particular $$f=\rho \partial_t v +\rho v\cdot \nabla v$$ for some body force $f$ (e.g Landau & Lifschitz 2.3) one assumes the continuity ...
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How does a steady wind flow generate sound?

When a wind blow through sharp edge, say, edge of a paper, you can see the vibration of the paper and hear the sound. For this type of oscillation, it should be a damped oscillation with external ...
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Why does my natural whistle have a maximum volume

When I whistle, I find that I can vary the volume by pushing more or less air through my mouth at once. However, when I increase volume past a point, I start to hear a blend of rushing air and a ...
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How to model/simulate pressures and flows in a network of pipes

I'm having a hard time finding information on how to model/simulate this. I attached a couple files, both of which show an example tank & pump network. It's just nonsense that I made up for this ...
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Why and how is sound produced when two objects hit each other?

When two objects collide and undergo a partially inelastic collision (so every one we experience in every-day life), they rebound to a certain degree, but kinetic energy is not conserved. Thus, the ...
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Can Increasing the Turbulence Inside a Pipeline Economically Increase Flow?

"The velocity gradient in turbulent flows is steeper close to the wall and less steep in the center of the pipe than it is for laminar flows (Blatt p.97)." Does this mean that some degree of ...
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Which direction will Coriolis forces deflect a bubble?

If I throw a ball straight up, it deflects slightly to the west due to Coriolis forces. If instead I watch a bubble float up in water, is the bubble deflected west, east, or neither? I think the ...
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Why cant one see tidal effects in a glass of water?

Why cant one see the tidal effect in a glass of water like in an ocean?
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How to prevent water droplets becoming larger on the tip of a nozzle?

I use an ordinary syringe to generate a single water droplet. However, it is not usually able to make a droplet smaller than 1 mm (because of surface tension forces, inner diameter of needle, etc.) ...
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Tsunami dampening mechanisms

Encouraged by the zeitgeist let me ask the following: Is it feasible (now or in the future) to build systems a certain distance of a vulnerable coastline which can serve to dampen a tsunami before it ...
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Why does water pouring from a glass sometimes travel down the side of the glass?

If you have a glass of water, say, three quarters full and you pour it at an angle of say, $45^{\circ}$ with respect to the the table, the water comes out of the glass and goes directly down towards ...
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Why do ice cubes come out easier from top trays?

This is my "hey, I've noticed that too!" question for the week. If you stack two plastic ice cube trays with water in them in a freezer, the resulting ice cubes in the top tray will usually come out ...
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Why exactly does a boomerang return back to the thrower?

I was always intrigued by the phenomena that govern the returning back of a boomerang to the thrower. Even if it is dependent on various factors such as velocity, aerodynamics, wind resistance and ...
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Whistle Physics

I'm looking for a simple explanation of how a whistle operates. I know that forcing air over a sharp lip can set up a wave in a resonating cavity, but how? "Most whistles operate due to a feedback ...
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What kind of energy does superfluidity use?

Liquid helium (and other similar fluids) can "climb up" the walls of their containers. Who does the work in this case, and what kind of energy does it use? I'm sure we can't make a perpetuum mobile ...
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Is there a way to fill Tank 2 from Tank 1 through Gravity alone?

I am a newbie in water system design but I am currently faced with the exact situation below on my land, and I need to know whether gravity alone is sufficient in order to fill Tank 2 from Tank 1, as ...
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Energy from man-made tornadoes

Peter Thiel just paid $300,000 to Canadian inventor Louis Michaud who is working to construct useful "man-made tornadoes" or "atmospheric vortex engines" which could be components of future power ...
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How do I calculate the distance a ship will take to stop?

I am a River Pilot and drive ships for a living. These ships are very large and range up to 160,000 Metric Tons. I am trying to figure out how to calculate the distance to stopping. I have a basic ...
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Can vorticity be destroyed?

I have a professor that is fond of saying that vorticity cannot be destroyed. I see how this is true for inviscid flows, but is this also true for viscous flow? The vorticity equation is shown below ...
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How would you swim in inviscid water?

The viscosity of water creates drag on swimmer's body so its effect is to slow down the swimmer. However the viscosity seems to be essential for pushing the water backwards by the swimmer's arms and ...
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Ball jumping from water

Few days ago I played with ball(filled with air) in swimming pool. I observed interesting phenomenon. When I released a ball from 3 meters depth the ball barely jumped above the water surface but ...
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Why is compressible flow near the choke point so efficient?

Imagine a steady state, one-dimensional, compressible flow in a horizontal pipe of constant cross sectional area. This flow can be isothermal, adiabatic (Fanno), or diabatic (Rayleigh). As an ...
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Calculating Reynolds number for a viscous droplet

I'm trying to develop a very basic scaling law/unit analysis for viscous droplet formation, and I'd like to get some rough numerical values of the Reynolds number to play with. To be specific, I'm ...
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About turbulence modeling

I have some questions about this paper: Lagrangian/Hamiltonian formalism for description of Navier-Stokes fluids. R. J. Becker. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58 no. 14 (1987), pp. 1419-1422. After reading ...
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Festive physics: gold flake vodka

I have a bottle of vodka that has a load of gold flakes suspended in it. It has been sat still for over 24 hours and the flakes are all still suspended within the liquid: they have not risen to the ...
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How can rising bubbles shrink and disappear?

I was recently looking at a Wurlitzer juke box, and noticed something strange. It's decorated with liquid-filled tubes. Gas bubbles are injected at the bottoms of the tubes, and the bubbles naturally ...
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Why do co-rotating vortices coalesce, but not counter-rotating ones?

In studying the aerodynamics of modern aircraft equipped with high-lift devices, I have discovered that quite a number of distinct trailing vortices are present in the immediate wake of an airplane in ...
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Why doesn't a bus blow due to internal pressure?

When one travels in a bus, if he's sitting at any window, he will feel that the air is coming inside. If someone is standing at the open door of the bus, he'll also feel that the air is coming ...
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Why do turbine engines work?

I know roughly how a turbine engine (let's say a gas turbine producing no jet thrust) is supposed to work: The compressor forces fresh air into a combustion chamber, where it reacts with fuel to ...
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Can cannonballs go through water?

In the recent Spielberg/Jackson Tintin movie, there is a scene where Red Rackham and Captain Haddock's ships are fighting, and cannons are fired. The cannonball is shown at one point to go through a ...
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Could a fish in a sealed ball, move the ball?

If you had a glass ball filled with water, completely sealed and containing a fish, could the fish move the ball?
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How can one build a multi-scale physics model of fluid flow phenomena?

I am working on a problem in Computational Fluid Dynamics, modeling multi-phase fluid flow through porous media. Though there are continuum equations to describe macroscopic flow (darcy's law, ...
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Why do galaxies and water going down a plug hole spin?

We all experience things spinning, whether it's water down a drain, the earth on its axis, planets round the sun, or stars in a galaxy - even electrons round an atom. But why is spin so common in ...
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How to estimate the Kolmogorov length scale

My understanding of Kolmogorov scales doesn't really go beyond this poem: Big whirls have little whirls that feed on their velocity, and little whirls have lesser whirls and so on to viscosity. ...
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Why does a transformation to a rotating reference frame NOT break temporal scale invariance?

Naively, I thought that transforming a scale invariant equation (such as the Navier-Stokes equations for example) to a rotating reference frame (for example the rotating earth) would break the ...
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The Galileo thermometer: why do the bubbles float in the middle of the tube?

If the water were uniform temperature, it would have uniform density, so a bubble should either be all the way at the top (if it's lighter than water) or all the way at the bottom (if heavier). But in ...
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What is enstrophy?

In turbulence, the enstrophy of a flow in a domain $\mathcal{D} \subset \mathbb{R}^{D}$ $$ \mathcal{E} = \int_{\mathcal{D}} |\vec{\nabla} \times \, \vec{v}|^2 d^{D}x $$ appears sometimes, it's cool ...
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What does the quantification of causes and effect look like, for clouds in offshore wind turbine wakes?

At Horns Rev windfarm off the coast of Denmark, sometimes in winter, clouds appears in the wake of the turbines. I've only seen photos of the phenomenon when the wind direction is exactly aligned with ...
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Does anyone know the mechanism behind this double helix cloud formation?

This looks like m=2 swirling instability mode of the axisymmetric jet, but how could an axisymmetric jet form up in the sky like that?
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Conservation Vs Non-conservation Forms of conservation Equations

I understand mathematically how one can obtain the conservation equations in both the conservative $${\partial\rho\over\partial t}+\nabla\cdot(\rho \textbf{u})=0$$ ...
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How does a hole's size affect the distance that water will squirt

I took a bucket, drilled 2 different sized holes on the side near the bottom and filled it with water. The stream of water the proceeded from the larger hole traveled further than the stream from the ...
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Water pressure in free fall

The increasing water pressure as you go deeper is generally explained in terms of the weight of the water column above the observation point pressing down. The question, then, is what would happen if ...