Fluid turbulence is one of the greatest unsolved problems of classical physics. It is also and the subject of a million-dollar mathematical (Millenium) challenge. Centuries of research--including Leonardo da Vinci’s observations of “la turbolenza” and the best efforts of numerous physicists (Heisenberg, Kelvin, Rayleigh, Sommerfeld, etc.)--have failed to yield a tractable predictive theory.
However, recent theoretical and computational advances have successfully linked recurring transient patterns (coherent structures) within turbulence to unstable solutions of the equations governing fluid flow (the Navier-Stokes equations). The solutions describing coherent structures provide a geometrical structure that guides the evolution of turbulence.
We describe laboratory experiments where the geometry of key coherent structures is identified and harnessed to construct a roadmap to forecast the behavior of weakly turbulent flows.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Michael F. Schatz is a professor and the associate chair for the introductory physics program in the School of Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1991, Schatz received his PhD in physics from the University of Texas, Austin; he joined the faculty of Georgia Tech in 1996.
Schatz conducts research in both experimental nonlinear dynamics and physics education. He is currently a director of the Hands-on Research in Complex Systems Schools at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), in Trieste, Italy. He is a recipient of the Cottrell Scholars Award and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.