Fun Facts Relevant to the Science of Hydrodynamics

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Hydrodynamics is the study of liquids in motion and the movement of solid objects immersed in liquids. Hydrodynamics is an important science. Controlling the flow of fluids is critical to manufacturing industries that produce man-made materials and refine oil into energy products.

Hydrodynamics: Science at Work

A thorough understanding of hydrodynamics is essential to those designing boats, ships and other types of marine transportation vessels. The science of hydrodynamics and/or fluid dynamics is influential within the many facets of engineering. One example of this science at work is in the design of bridge piers, where the bridge connects two roads separated by a river. The piers are vertical supports that stand on the river bottom and hold up the bridge. Water flowing around these piers can cause environmental issues associated with the obstruction of water (erosion and silt). Turbulence generated by water flowing past these piers can wreak havoc with water craft trying to navigate under the bridge. The engineering solution to these hydrodynamic issues rests in good bridge designs, including streamlined pontoons that deflect flowing water smoothly past the bridge piers.

Fun Facts About Hydrodynamics

Hydrodynamics is vitally important to industry and engineering, but it doesn’t mean that learning about it should be dull! Indeed, learning about hydrodynamics can be great fun, even for young school children. All you need is a bit imagination and creative thinking. What child has never gazed upon a duck swimming on a pond without wondering how it could move about so swiftly through the water? A great deal can be learned about the science of hydrodynamics by thinking about water fowl. How fast could a human swim if they had feet like a duck? In one sense, the answer to this question is knowable. Underwater divers wear swim fins on their feet that help propel them rapidly through water in a manner very similar to a duck’s.

Early History of Fluid Dynamics

More than 2,200 years ago, a scientist by the name of Archimedes sat down in a bath full of water and noticed that his own body displaced some of the water in the tub. What he had discovered is that the mass of an object immersed pushes out an amount of water equal in mass. From this, he was able to work out whether or not a king’s crown was made of pure gold or a mixture of gold and cheaper metals: he compared how much water was displaced by pure gold and the king’s crown, determining the king’s crown was not pure gold.

Skipping Stones

Few people who enjoy the challenge of skipping a small stone across the surface of a pond think about the science behind this absorbing little activity. But skipping stones is all about hydrodynamics: the surface tension of pond water, in conjunction with the interesting physical properties of small, flat stones, makes it possible for a person to throw a stone in a pond and bounce it on the surface many times before it disappears beneath the water.

Turbo Fluid Couplings in Automobiles

It is interesting to note that automobiles with automatic transmissions have large moving parts that interact but do not touch. These parts are very close to each other but separated by an enclosed chamber filled with liquid (transmission fluid). This arrangement prevents parts from touching and wearing on each other. The chamber inside an automatic transmission is called a “torque converter,” and it transmits mechanical energy down a drive train from the engine to the wheels. It does this by putting in motion a dense fluid between two bowl-shaped parts that are coupled but not touching. The momentum of the circulating fluid is transferred from the part connected to the car’s engine to another connected to the remainder of the drive train which, turns the wheels of the car. All this happens because the viscosity of a liquid is sufficient to act as a connector between two solids without transferring each and every vibration down the line. The automobile torque converter is a fascinating example of how hydrodynamic engineering makes life better for man. From the swimming speed of a duck to the complex structure of an automatic transmission, hydrodynamics play a part in everyday life. Next time you get in a bathtub or throw a stone across a pond, consider the role of hydrodynamics, and explain the science to your friends!


This article was written by Vito Sanchez, a Mechanical Engineering student who looks forward to sharing more about his knowledge with you! He writes this on behalf of Stewart Technology, the best in hydrodynamic analysis. Check out their website today and see what they can do for you!