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  • Matthew Goldman

Laminar Flow and Fluid Dynamics

The defining moment in my college career at The University of Colorado was the summer after sophomore year. I took Fluid Dynamics with one of my most inspiring professors. Not only was the class exceedingly difficult, but it started at 7:30AM, 4 days a week -- during the summer. Yet, I oddly looked forward to being in that lecture hall, four days a week, with a professor whom I greatly admired.

He always started the class with a video from a website focused on the world of fluid dynamics ( that would underscore the focus of the lecture. I’ll never forget one day we were learning about viscosity, non-Newtonian fluids, Reynolds number and how these concepts relate to Laminar flow. According to Wikipedia, “Laminar flow is characterized by fluid particles following smooth paths in layers, with each layer moving smoothly past the adjacent layers with little or no mixing. At low velocities, the fluid tends to flow without lateral mixing, and adjacent layers slide past one another like playing cards. There are no cross-currents perpendicular to the direction of flow, nor eddies or swirls of fluids…a flow regime characterize by high momentum diffusion and low momentum convection”. He showed us a video, from the above website, that demonstrated Laminar flow. As usual, I was blown away by the video demonstration. I remember that being the tipping point for my interest in fluid dynamics and water in general. The material just kept getting more and more interesting: Reynolds transport theorem, Bingham plastics (non-Newtonian fluids), Bernoulli Principle, cavitation, etc. It was on that particular day when I knew I wanted to focus my studies on fluid dynamics and related topics, so naturally for engineering, anything involving water. The professor, the class, subject matter and the demonstrations inspired me to choose my water resources focus with in civil engineering. I hope you find this video as cool and thought-provoking as I did!

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