Turbulenz – ein problemhistorischer Abriss

  • Michael Eckert


Turbulenz Strömungsforschung Technowissenschaften L. Prandtl von Kármán G. I. Taylor 

Turbulence in Perspective

In the beginning of the 20th century, the riddles of turbulent flow became articulated as “the turbulence problem”. It comprised two parts: the onset of turbulence, which was conceived as an instability of laminar flow; and fully developed turbulence, for which both empirical (mixing length) and statistical theories of turbulence were developed. Up until the present time turbulence research has been inter-and transdisciplinary, attracting scientists and engineers from a variety of specialties and with diverse scientific and technological orientations. For this reason, turbulence research is also an interesting case for the sociological study of knowledge production in technoscience.

The article traces the history of the turbulence problem in the first half of the 20th century, when the major pathways for its attack were first outlined and explored. The ups and downs of the turbulence problem in different local and cultural settings provide a unique opportunity to study a technoscience in the making, beyond sweeping assumptions about science-technology relations. Present fluid dynamicists rate the turbulence problem still as unsolved, but this evaluation should not prevent historians of science and technology from tackling it by their own means: it safeguards the historical analysis against the pitfall of whig history.


turbulence fluid dynamics technoscience L. Prandtl von Kármán G. I. Taylor 


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Copyright information

© Birkhaeuser 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deutsches MuseumMünchenGermany

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