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About this book

In October 1918, Jan Burgers, 23 years old, started as professor of ‘aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, and their applications’ at the Technical University in Delft. This can be regarded as the birth of fluid mechanics in the Netherlands, not only as an academic discipline but also as the start of the serious study of flow phenomena in engineering environments. During the period of Burgers’ tenure in Delft (till 1955) three Dutch institutes were founded which to this day remain important centres of research in various fields of fluid mechanics: aerospace engineering, hydraulics, and naval engineering. Burgers and others developed mathematical, experimental, and numerical approaches of a broad range of fluid flows; some of their achievements have become well-known worldwide and can be seen as highlights of Dutch fluid mechanics. From the 1950s ‘stromingsleer’ (flow theory) attained a permanent and respected place in the curriculum and research of (technical) universities, at many old and new research institutes and also at several industrial research laboratories. In the 1980s fluid mechanics finally became ‘recognized’ as a serious branch of physics and an important field of (applied) science. This resulted in a close cooperation between academic groups, institutes and industry and the foundation of the Burgerscentrum, the Research School for Fluid Mechanics in the Netherlands.

One hundred years after Burgers’ appointment in Delft, Dutch fluid mechanics is still very much alive. This volume gives a full account of its rich history and also offers a view on the broad range of areas of application: transport, energy production, biology and medicine, production processes, etc. It has been written not only for those working in this field but also for those interested in the history of Dutch science and in the development of science and the fascinating world of fluid flow phenomena.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

1. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

Abstract
In this book we look back on developments in fluid mechanics in the Netherlands. Burgers’ observation, quoted above, raises at least one intriguing question: did Burgers set a trend and can one say that most fluid mechanicists in this country have been ‘interpreters’ rather than ‘discoverers’? It is up to the reader to try to formulate an answer.
Fons Alkemade

2. COPING WITH AIR AND WATER IN THE NETHERLANDS BEFORE 1918

Abstract
It is well known that over the centuries the Dutch have (more or less) constructed their own country by building dikes (or dykes), canals and locks, creating polders, pumping water, etc. One of the first Dutchmen who thought and wrote about the art of constructing dikes and locks was Andries Vierlingh, who died in 1579.
Fons Alkemade

3. THE MAKING OF A ‘NEW’ BRANCH IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

Abstract
At the beginning of the 20th century the Department of Mechanical Engineering (Werktuigbouwkunde) of the TH in Delft was not known for its scientific approach to the topics which belonged to its area of interest: machines, constructions, and production processes.
Fons Alkemade

4. DEVELOPMENTS AFTER 1955

Abstract
By 1955 The Netherlands had two professors for fluid mechanics: Jan Burgers and Bert Broer (1916–1991). Both were trained as physicists and were able to apply mathematical techniques which were (and maybe still are) regular in physics but still rather unknown to the engineering world of the 1950s.
Fons Alkemade

5. RESEARCH IN FLUID MECHANICS: FLOWS

Abstract
The flows in this category have been subdivided among seven subcategories, for reasons of convenience and clarity. For each category examples of research from the ‘early period’ (many involving work by Burgers and co-workers), and also of more recent times are presented.
Fons Alkemade

6. RESEARCH IN FLUID MECHANICS: APPROACHES

Abstract
As in many other fields of physics and engineering, the theoretical approach is often a tough one and the number of real breakthrough results is small. The boundary layer theory and the lifting-line theory for ‘real’ wings developed by Prandtl may be called such results, but there were not many others like them in the period between 1904 and the outbreak of the Second World War. The same can be said of the postwar period.
Fons Alkemade

7. CAPITA SELECTA

Abstract
Where sounds find their origin in the interaction of flowing gases with various structures, we speak of aero-acoustics. Sometimes these sounds are deliberately made and required, e.g., speech and singing or musical instruments. One of the first theories about how humans produce sounds with their voice was the so-called myoelastic-aerodynamic theory formulated in 1958 by Janwillem van den Berg, a lector in medical physics at the University of Groningen.
Fons Alkemade

8. EPILOGUE

Abstract
What will fluid mechanics look like one hundred years from now, in 2118? History has taught us that such predictions are hard to make. Very few in this field around 1980 would probably have believed that some 25 years later impressive measurements of 3D flows would be possible, but developments in PIV and other techniques have indeed revolutionized the world of experimentation in fluid mechanics.
Fons Alkemade
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