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Engineering LibreTexts

9.1.1: Brief History

The idea of experimentation with a different, rather than the actual, dimension was suggested by several individuals independently. Some attribute it to Newton (1686) who coined the phrase of "great Principle of Similitude.'' basic units of mass, length, and time as building blocks of all other units. Another example, John Smeaton (8 June 1724–28 October 1792) was an English civil and mechanical engineer who study relation between propeller/wind mill and similar devices to the pressure and velocity of the driving forces. dimensional analysis theory. Open channel flow and actual body but more importantly the relationship between drag of models to actual ships. While the majority of the contributions were done by thermo–fluid guys the concept of the equivalent or similar propagated to other fields. Aim\'{e}em Vaschy, a German Mathematical Physicist (1857–1899), suggested using similarity in electrical engineering and suggested the Norton circuit equivalence Rayleigh probably was the first one who used dimensional analysis the relationships between the physical quantities (see the question why the sky is blue story). Osborne Reynolds (1842–1912) was the first to derive and use dimensionless parameters temperature by molecules velocity and thus creating dimensionless group with the byproduct of compact solution (solution presented in a compact and simple form). In the about the same time (1915, Wilhelm Nusselt (November 25, 1882 – September 1, 1957), a German engineer, developed the dimensional analysis (proposed of heat transfer without knowledge about previous work of Buckingham.


  • 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.