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Turbulence: the chief outstanding difficulty of our subject


A review of interesting current topics in turbulence research is decorated with examples of popular fallacies about the behaviour of turbulence. Topics include the status of the Law of the Wall, especially in compressible flow; analogies between the effects of Reynolds number, pressure gradient, unsteadiness and roughness change; the status of Kolmogorov's universal equilibrium theory and local isotropy of the small eddies; turbulence modelling, with reference to universality, pressure-strain modelling and the dissipation equation; and chaos. Fallacies include the mixing-length concept; the effect of pressure gradient on Reynolds shear stress; the separability of time and space derivatives; models of the dissipation equation; and chaos.

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This paper was originally presented, as the Third Stewartson Memorial Lecture, at the Symposium on Numerical and Physical Aspects of Aerodynamic Flows, Long Beach, 1992. The present version includes some new material and omits some jokes.

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Bradshaw, P. Turbulence: the chief outstanding difficulty of our subject. Experiments in Fluids 16, 203–216 (1994).

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  • Shear Stress
  • Reynolds Number
  • Pressure Gradient
  • Isotropy
  • Turbulence Modelling