Turbulence makes many people uneasy or downright queasy. And it’s given researchers a headache, too. Mathematicians have been trying for a century or more to understand the turbulence that arises when a flow interacts with a boundary, but a formulation has proven elusive.
Now an international team of mathematicians, led by UC Santa Barbara professor Björn Birnir and the University of Oslo professor Luiza Angheluta, has published a complete description of boundary layer turbulence. The paper appears in Physical Review Research, and synthesizes decades of work on the topic. The theory unites empirical observations with the Navier-Stokes equation — the mathematical foundation of fluid dynamics — into a mathematical formula.