onsdag 15 juni 2011

The Mathematical Secret of Flight 3

After my talk The Mathematical Secret of Flight at Svenska Mekanikdagar 2011 an remark was made by Laszlo Fuchs recalling early attempts to compute the lift and drag of a wing by solving the Euler equations by Antony Jamseon (left) and Art Rizzi at KTH in the 1980s.

In essence what Jameson and Rizzi did was to solve the Navier-Stokes equations with a slip boundary condition at very high Reynolds number, essentially the same as we are doing, and observing the appearance of unsteady fluctuating solutions.

However, these solutions were regarded with suspicion by the fluid dynamics community as some kind of ghost solutions with unclear physical significance. In particular the slip boundary condition without any boundary layer was against the dictate of Prandtl that no-slip is the only physically correct boundary condition and that boundary layers have to be resolved because the truth is to be found there.

The result was that the (incompressible) Euler solvers of Jameson and Rizzi became marginalized, just as Birkhoff had been in the 1950s when asking if there were any steady solutions at all.

What we have shown is that Birkhoff, Jameson and Rizzi were on the right track and that the effective suppression of their ideas has delayed the advancement of computational fluid mechanics by several decades. The solutions computed by Jameson and Rizzi were not ghost solutions but true turbulent solutions carrying important information of real physics.

The suppression of correct science is often more harmful than the promotion of wrong science.

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