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Onset of turbulence in pipe flow

Prof. Dwight Barkley (Warwick Mathematics Institute)


When fluid flows through a pipe, channel, or duct, there are two basic forms of motion: smooth laminar motion and complex turbulent motion. The discontinuous transition between these states is a fundamental problem that has been studied for more than 125 years. I will recall some of the history of hydrodynamic stability theory with a view to explaining why even the simplest case, pipe flow, is both a fascinating and difficult problem. I will then discuss recent developments in experiments and modeling that are finally resolving the transition to turbulence in pipe flow.