onsdag 15 augusti 2012

Analysis of AIAA Referee Reports

The referee reports AIAAreview1 and AIAAreview2 of the New Theory of Flight submitted to AIAA Journal offer shocking evidence as concerns the state-of-the-art of aerodynamics represented by AIAA, The Worlds Forum for Aerospace Leadership.

The reports give ample evidence that the existing theory is insufficient. Reviewer 2 starts out with
  • The classical theory of flight is no longer of interest to mathematicians, because they know that it has been a solved problem for many decades (although they have forgotten the details). 
  • Obviously, it remains of interest to engineers on account of its predictive ability, but it can be employed very successfully without knowledge of the subtleties. 
  • Aerodynamics today is therefore almost always taught in a truncated version that retains all of the utility, but has lost much of the profundity.
  • Even the truncated version is no longer as highly respected as it used to be, because Computational Fluid Dynamics delivers, with no requirement for deep thought, most of the practical answers that are needed. 
  • In consequence, there are many employed today in the aerospace industry, and even in academia, whose grasp of the basic theory of flight contains many gaps. 
  • These gaps are apparent to thoughtful students, who frequently attempt to fill them in for themselves, although the remedy is usually worse than the disease. 
  • I believe that the authors of the paper under review would have no quarrel with the orthodox theory if they knew all of the details, although they are right to quarrel with the truncated version that they, like others, have apparently received. 
What Reviewer 2 effectively says is that the theory of flight is a mess, abandoned by mathematicians and not understood by engineers designing airplanes. This is serious criticism of the existing theory, by the reviewer.

Reveiwer 2 then continues by dismissing the criticism published in AIAA J and NYT/John D. Anderson (and many other places)
  • The authors’ citation from Hoffren reveals the unfortunate “mathphobia” that many critics display. 
  • The response from the New York Times is merely irresponsible journalism, but undoubtedly an air of mystery does pervade flight, and the attempt to dispel it by simplified accounts does as much harm as good. 
Reviewer 2 then pleads for mysticism instead of science:
  • Understanding flight requires intuiting the behavior of an intangible medium for which our evolution has provided no apt language. 
Finally, Reviewer 2 starts out into a lengthy attempt to resurrect the theory that has collapsed:
  • All of the criticisms that comprise Section I of their paper can be answered, and I will try to do this below.
Reviewer 1 dismisses our article by
  • The authors provide no documented scientific evidence to discredit the current state of the art. 
Reviewer 1 thereby dismisses all the criticism of the current state of the art, acknowledged by Reviewer 2, and expressed by AIAA/Hoffren among many.

Both reviewers thus defend the existing theory without seriously taking our criticism into account. 

They do not show that they have read and understood our arguments, which is necessary to give an evaluation. Instead they display a large number of misconceptions as concerns both mathematics and computation underlying the theory of flight. I will return to these misconceptions in an upcoming post.

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