Turbulent Flow is MORE Awesome Than Laminar Flow

Turbulent Flow is MORE Awesome Than Laminar Flow

Everyone loves laminar flow but turbulent flow is the real MVP.
A portion of this video was sponsored by Cottonelle. Purchase Cottonelle Flushable Wipes and try them for yourself: https://bit.ly/2WJm9Hq

Special thanks to:
Prof. Beverley McKeon and team https://www.mckeon.caltech.edu
Destin from Smarter Every Day https://www.youtube.com/smartereveryday
Nicole Sharp from FYFD https://ve42.co/fyfd
Pavol Dobryakov turbulent simulations: https://paveldogreat.github.io/WebGL-Fluid-Simulation/

I got into turbulent flow via chaos. The transition to turbulence sometimes involves a period doubling. Turbulence itself is chaotic motion, it is unpredictable and sensitively dependent on initial conditions. What surprised me is all the ways turbulent flow is useful to us. It is diffusive, meaning it causes mixing. This is useful in jet engines or rocket nozzles (which Destin studies) and is important to achieve in microfluidic devices, which are so small that turbulent flow is actually difficult to achieve. Turbulent flow can energize a boundary layer, which is important to maintain flow attachment over a wing, maintaining lift and delaying stall. Similarly a turbulent boundary layer over a golf ball reduces pressure drag allowing golf balls to fly further. This is the reason for the dimples on golf balls. Flow transitioning to turbulence in the wake of a bluff body can create periodic vortex shedding. This beautiful phenomenon can be seen in the von Kàrmàn vortex street in clouds viewed from space. Turbulence is everywhere, in the air currents in a room, in your aorta, in the breaths you exhale, in oil pipelines and water pipes, in the flow over cars and ships and planes. Animals have evolved for it (like dead fish swimming up stream) and we have engineered our environment, our planes and golf balls for it. Laminar flow may be nice to look at (which is why we use it in decorative fountains) but turbulent flow does the real lifting.

Animations by:
Jonny Hyman (Sun, Jupiter, Reynolds, airfoil, Earth time-lapse)

Research and writing:
AJ Fillo and Derek Muller. AJ also created the wind tunnel golf ball shots

Filmed by:
Daniel Bydlowski and Derek Muller

Additional footage:
Images of Jupiter courtesy of NASA
Turbulence in air currents by the Physics Girl, Dan Walsh, and Grant Sanderson https://youtu.be/N7d_RWyOv20

illBird “Shaffuru” https://youtu.be/5rkt53fNMgc
From EpidemicSound https://epidemicsound.com “Seaweed” “Colorful Animation 4”
Kevin MacLeod https://incompetech.com “Sneaky Adventure”


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  1. I feel like an argument for laminar flow is because that it is so hard to ave. It is the unique condition in a world of chaos, and so one can really value those things that are rarer and harder to achieve.

    However, I find laminar flow boring, so turbulent flow ftw

  2. Why the irritating distracting background music/noises?
    Ridiculous in an educational video. What's the matter with you. What are you thinking when you add it?

  3. turbulent proximations are how i started making people scratch their heads. i can see through it to the safest way to drown you at the bottom of challenger deep every time.. the artic isnt a crater from an impact like the hudson is. im sure that shocked you when i revealed roughly what it is before any of you had the slightest idea. i noticed that, i didnt have to tell you but did because i wanted my awrds and never got them so im going to have you regret that tilo the day you die. ripping me off is the only thing thats holding you back from surviving this. sheriffs., go down and arrest him, hes stealing from all of you like the other guys. im going to kill myself if they keep ripping all of us off. i dont operate like they are used to. im not going to do anything but die early and take everything with me, these guys are ripping you all off and you all know it.

  4. Does this apply to electricity ? You get eddy currents in transformers my laminating the core material you reduce those currents so does this make the flow of electrons more laminar than turbulent ?