tisdag 30 oktober 2012

Making of the Prandtl Myth by John D Anderson

We cite from the book Fundamentals of Aerodynamics by John D Anderson addressed in a previous post, concerning Ludwig Prandtl, the father of modern aerodynamics:
  • The first practical theory for predicting the aerodynamic properties of a finite wing was developed by Ludwig Prandtl and his colleagues at Gottingen, Germany, during the period 1911-1918, spanning World War I. The utility of Prandtl's theory is so great that it is still in use today for preliminary calculations of finite-wing characteristics.
  • The modern science of aerodynamics rests on a strong fundamental foundation, a large percentage of which was established in one place by one man-at the University of Gottingen by Ludwig Prandtl. Prandtl never received a Noble Prize, although his contributions to aerodynamics and fluid mechanics are felt by many to be of that caliber.
  • By the 1930s, Prandtl was recognized worldwide as the "elder statesman" of fluid dynamics. Although he continued to do research in various areas, including structural mechanics and meteorology, his "Nobel Prize-level" contributions to fluid dynamics had all been made. 
  • Prandtl remained at Gottingen throughout the turmoil of World War II, engrossed in his work and seemingly insulated from the intense political and physical disruptions brought about by Nazi Germany. 
  • In fact, the German Air Ministry provided Prandtl's laboratory with new equipment and financial support. 
  • Prandtl was considered a tedious lecturer because he could hardly make a statement without qualifying it. However, he attracted excellent students... 
  • Prandtl died in 1953. He was clearly the father of modern aerodynamics-a monumental figure in fluid dynamics. His impact will be felt for centuries to come.
Anderson captures the essential quality of Prandtl's theory as a practical method for preliminary calculation of wing characteristics (lift),  and not a physical theory describing the true aerodynamics of the generation of lift of a wing. Anderson further emphasizes the strong connection between Prandtl's work and German war efforts, and thus gives the reason why Prandtl was not near to get a Nobel Prize.

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