Journal of Engineering Mathematics

, Volume 67, Issue 1–2, pp 95–113 | Cite as

Thomas Young on fluid mechanics

  • Alex D. D. Craik


Thomas Young was a prolific scholar who made many contributions to science, medicine and the humanities. Here, his writings on fluid mechanics are reviewed. The best known of these are on tides and on surface tension; but he did much else besides. These include his wide-ranging lectures to the Royal Institution, his rather eccentric reworking of Book 1 of Laplace’s Mécanique céleste, and papers on pneumatics and hydraulics. Among the latter are perhaps the first observation of transition to turbulence in jets of air; an empirical formula for the resistance of hydraulic flow in pipes, suggested by his own experiments with thin tubes; and probably the first, but incomplete, attempt at a theory of the hydraulic jump or bore. All of this work is characterised by sound physical insight but mathematical limitations.


Cohesion and surface tension History of fluid mechanics Hydraulics Tides Water waves 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mathematical InstituteUniversity of St AndrewsSt Andrews, FifeScotland, UK

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