söndag 20 juli 2014

The End of the Prandtl Medal

Here is the last exchange of emails concerning the Prandtl Medal between me and representatives for ECCOMAS offering the Medal to me and IACM co-organizing the conference at which opening ceremony tomorrow the Medal would have been hanged around my neck.

The correspondence (full account in previous post) shows that the contradiction of giving the Prandtl Medal to me was resolved into one of the two given possibilities: My view in direct contradiction to Prandtl's legacy was not allowed to be expressed in open scientific discussion. In this case the Prandtl Medal survived but I could not accept to receive it. 

The other possibility was that my view in direct contradiction to Prandtl's legacy would have been allowed to be expressed in open scientific discussion. In this case it would have been possible for me to accept the Medal, but further issues of the Prandtl Medal may have become meaningless. 

The Organizers chose the first option. The Medal Committee having voted for the second option was apparently run over by the Organizers. But I am still alive and can better express my happy message to the CFD community without the weight of a Prandtl Medal.

Friday July 18:

Dear Professor Johnson,

we already mentioned earlier that a very short award ceremony will take place following the tradition in our associations. This includes a brief introduction of the awardees and a short summary of their major work. Again we would like to point out that it is not possible to enter into a scientific discussion in this ceremony.

However, despite the short notice the organizers found a way for you to express your view in a subsequent CFD session, waived your registration, and include the abstract in the online version of the program. Moreover, your talk will be announced in the ceremony.

We would regret if this arrangement does not meet your expectations and you decide to decline accepting the medal.

Ekkehard Ramm, Pedro Diez, Ferdinando Auricchio, Josef Eberharsteiner- President, Vicepresidents and Secretary of ECCOMAS, Eugenio Oñate, Xavier Oliver, Antonio Huerta - Chairmen of WCCM-ECCM-ECFD 2014

Saturday July 19

Dear Professors and Organizers:

I certainly did not expect to be given the Prandtl Medal, but once being chosen as Medalist I expect a fair and correct reception (including e.g. an invitation to the conference dinner, instead of being asked  to invite and pay myself). I thus expect that the following statement of mine (in bold) will be read at the award ceremony, by myself or by the person presenting my person and work:

The famous Danish physicist Niels Bohr said: “How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress.” 

And yes, to give the Prandtl Medal to me is a paradox, or a contradiction, and as such a starting point for making progress. The contradiction is that my work together with Johan Hoffman has shown that Prandtl’s boundary layer theory, Prandtl’s main contribution as the named Father of Modern Fluid Mechanics, is not in accordance with observations and thus incorrect as scientific theory. 

Our evidence consists of computational solutions of the incompressible Navier-Stokes equations as the basic model describing slightly viscous turbulent flow, combined with slip boundary condition as a model of observed small skin friction, which does not generate any no-slip boundary layers, but nevertheless agree with observations of separation, drag and lift for a wide range of problems. 

We conclude that separation, drag and lift  in slightly viscous flow do not originate from thin no-slip boundary layers, in direct contradiction to Father Prandtl. 

Our work breaks the spell of Father Prandtl asking for impossible computational resolution of thin boundary layers beyond the capacity of thinkable computers, and thus opens a wide range of new possibilities for many users of CFD. I will present some of these possibilities in the session Advanced Methods in CFD I following this award ceremony. 

I see no rational reason that this statement by me as chosen Medalist cannot be made at the award ceremony. I further expect that a link to the abstract text I have sent will be put up on the conference web page announcing my talk, together with a link to the following related post on my professional blog:
I further remind you, for the third time, that I want my first name to be presented as Claes and not the double name Claes-Göran, which still occurs on the talk web page.

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Best regards,
Claes Johnson

Saturday July 19 11.06 PM 

Dear Professor Johnson, 

the sole intention of ECCOMAS to select you as the awardee of the 2014 Ludwig Prandtl Medal was to acknowledge your outstanding and sustained contribution in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics.

Your argument "... that Prandtl has had a devastating negative influence on 20th century fluid mechanics" has nothing to do with this intention. The award ceremony would certainly not be the proper forum for publicly voicing your criticism of Prandtl's boundary layer theory, because it would leave no room for instant counter arguments from the auditorium and, thus, would violate a fundamental principle of a fair scientific dispute. 

Therefore, we kindly ask you to withdraw your condition to use the award ceremony for such a criticism. Should you feel unable to do so, we request that you consider not to accept the medal. If you do not respond to this mail we understand that you will not attend the award ceremony on Monday Morning and that you have decided not accepting the medal. 

With best regards, Ekkehard Ramm, Pedro Diez, Ferdinando Auricchio, Josef Eberharsteiner- President, Vicepresidents and Secretary of ECCOMAS Eugenio Oñate, Xavier Oliver, Antonio Huerta - Chairmen of WCCM-ECCM-ECFD 2014

Sunday July 21

To ECCOMAS and Organizers of IACM-ECCOMAS Barcelona 2014

After an extended correspondence with representatives of IACM-ECCOMAS, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot accept to receive the Prandtl Medal given to me. The reason is that I have been denied a fair possibility to present my view as the result of my research the last 20 years, that Prandtl's boundary layer theory is not in correspondence with observations and thus incorrect as scientific theory.

My positive message to the CFD community that computational simulation of slightly viscous flow is today possible without resolution of thin no-slip boundary layers, which is in direct contradiction to Prandtl's legacy as the Father of Modern Fluid Mechanics, has not been allowed to be voiced at the conference, except under unreasonable limitation approaching full suppression. This is a tragedy for CFD, ECCOMAS and IACM and I can only hope that reason finally will win.

If there is tomorrow a glimpse of reason, my above motivation for declining the Medal should be read at the award ceremony.

Claes Johnson

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