Chandrasekhar's fluid dynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) is justly famous for his lasting contributions to topics such as white dwarfs and black holes (which led to his Nobel Prize), stellar structure and dynamics, general relativity, and other facets of astrophysics. He also devoted some dozen or so of his prime years to fluid dynamics, especially stability and turbulence, and made important contributions. Yet in most assessments of his science, far less attention is paid to his fluid dynamics work because it is dwarfed by other, more prominent work. Even within the fluid dynamics community, his extensive research on turbulence and other problems of fluid dynamics is not well known. This review is a brief assessment of that work. After a few biographical remarks, I recapitulate and assess the essential parts of this work, putting my remarks in the context of times and people with whom Chandrasekhar interacted. I offer a few comments in perspective on how he came to work on turbulence and stability problems, on how he viewed science as an aesthetic activity, and on how one's place in history gets defined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Fluid Mechanics
Volume51
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 5 2019

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Keywords

  • MHD turbulence
  • S. Chandrasekhar
  • biography
  • fluid turbulence
  • history of science
  • hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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