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Fifty Years of Boundary-Layer Theory and ExperimentThe year 1954 marked the 50th anniversary of the Prandtl boundary-layer theory from which we may date the beginning of man's understanding of the dynamics of real fluids. A backward look at this aspect of the history of the last 50 years may be instructive. This paper (1) attempts to compress the events of those 50 years into a few thousand words, to tell in this brief space the interesting story of the development of a new concept, its slow acceptance and growth, its spread from group to group within its country of origin, and its diffusion to other countries of the world. The original brief paper of Prandtl (2) was presented at the Third International Mathematical Congress at Heidelberg in 1904 and published in the following year. It was an attempt to explain the d'Alembert paradox, namely, that the neglect of the small friction of air in the theory resulted in the prediction of zero resistance to motion. Prandtl set himself the task of computing the motion of a fluid of small friction, so small that its effect could be neglected everywhere except where large velocity differences were present or a cumulative effect of friction occurred This led to the concept of boundary layer, or transition layer, near the wall of a body immersed in a fluid stream in which the velocity rises from zero to the free-stream value. It is interesting that Prandtl used the term Grenzsehicht (boundary layer) only once and the term Ubergangsschicht (transition layer) seven times in the brief article. Later writers also used Reibungsschicht (friction layer), but most writers today use Grenzschicht (boundary layer).
Document ID
20150019333
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Authors
Dryden, Hugh L. (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Washington, DC, United States)
Date Acquired
October 13, 2015
Publication Date
March 18, 1955
Publication Information
Publication: Science
Volume: 121
Issue: 3142
Subject Category
Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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