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1.1: What is Fluid Mechanics?

Fluid mechanics deals with the study of all fluids under static and dynamic situations. Fluid mechanics is a branch of continuous mechanics which deals with a relationship between forces, motions, and statical conditions in a continuous material. This study area deals with many and diversified problems such as surface tension, fluid statics, flow in enclose bodies, or flow round bodies (solid or otherwise), flow stability, etc. In fact, almost any action a person is doing involves some kind of a fluid mechanics problem. Furthermore, the boundary between the solid mechanics and fluid mechanics is some kind of gray shed and not a sharp distinction (see Figure 1.1 for the complex relationships between the different branches which only part of it should be drawn in the same time.). For example, glass appears as a solid material, but a closer look reveals that the glass is a liquid with a large viscosity. A proof of the glass ``liquidity'' is the change of the glass thickness in high windows in European Churches after hundred years. The bottom part of the glass is thicker than the top part. Materials like sand (some call it quick sand) and grains should be treated as liquids. It is known that these materials have the ability to drown people. Even material such as aluminum just below the mushy zone also behaves as a liquid similarly to butter. Furthermore, material particles that ``behaves'' as solid mixed with liquid creates a mixture After it was established that the boundaries of fluid mechanics aren't sharp, most of the discussion in this book is limited to simple and (mostly) Newtonian (sometimes power fluids) fluids which will be defined later.


What Are Fluids

Fig. 1.1 Diagram to explain part of relationships of fluid mechanics branches.

The fluid mechanics study involve many fields that have no clear boundaries between them. Researchers distinguish between orderly flow and chaotic flow as the laminar flow and the turbulent flow. The fluid mechanics can also be distinguish between a single phase flow and multiphase flow (flow made more than one phase or single distinguishable material). The last boundary (as all the boundaries in fluid mechanics) isn't sharp because fluid can go through a phase change (condensation or evaporation) in the middle or during the flow and switch from a single phase flow to a multi phase flow. Moreover, flow with two phases (or materials) can be treated as a single phase (for example, air with dust particle).

After it was made clear that the boundaries of fluid mechanics aren't sharp, the study must make arbitrary boundaries between fields. Then the dimensional analysis can be used explain why in certain cases one distinguish area/principle is more relevant than the other and some effects can be neglected. Or, when a general model is need because more parameters are effecting the situation. It is this author's personal experience that the knowledge and ability to know in what area the situation lay is one of the main problems. For example, engineers in software company) analyzed a flow of a complete still liquid assuming a complex turbulent flow model. Such absurd analysis are common among engineers who do not know which model can be applied. Thus, one of the main goals of this book is to explain what model should be applied. Before dealing with the boundaries, the simplified private cases must be explained.

There are two main approaches of presenting an introduction of fluid mechanics materials. The first approach introduces the fluid kinematic and then the basic governing equations, to be followed by stability, turbulence, boundary layer. The second approach deals with the Integral Analysis to be followed with Differential Analysis, and continue with Empirical Analysis. These two approaches pose a dilemma to anyone who writes an introductory book for the fluid mechanics. These two approaches have justifications and positive points. Reviewing many books on fluid mechanics made it clear, there isn't a clear winner. This book attempts to find a hybrid approach in which the kinematic is presented first (aside to standard initial four chapters) follow by Integral analysis and continued by Differential analysis. The ideal flow (frictionless flow) should be expanded compared to the regular treatment. This book is unique in providing chapter on multiphase flow. Naturally, chapters on open channel flow (as a sub class of the multiphase flow) and compressible flow (with the latest developments) are provided.


  • Dr. Genick Bar-Meir. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or later or Potto license.