Simplifying the complexity of pipe flow
University of Warwick
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 theory and experiments that are finally resolving the transition to turbulence in pipe flow.