Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics that studies fluids (liquids, gases, and plasmas) and the forces on them. Fluid mechanics can be divided into fluid statics, the study of fluids at rest; fluid kinematics, the study of fluids in motion; and fluid dynamics, the study of the effect of forces on fluid motion. It is a branch of continuum mechanics, a subject which models matter without using the information that it is made out of atoms, that is, it models matter from a macroscopic viewpoint rather than from a microscopic viewpoint. Fluid mechanics, especially fluid dynamics, is an active field of research with many unsolved or partly solved problems. Fluid mechanics can be mathematically complex, and can best be solved by numerical methods, typically using computers. A modern discipline, called computational fluid dynamics (CFD), is devoted to this approach to solving fluid mechanics problems. Particle image velocimetry, an experimental method for visualizing and analyzing fluid flow, also takes advantage of the highly visual nature of fluid flow.
In physics, fluid dynamics is a subdiscipline of fluid mechanics that deals with fluid flow—the natural science of fluids (liquids and gases) in motion. It has several subdisciplines itself, including aerodynamics (the study of air and other gases in motion) and hydrodynamics (the study of liquids in motion). Fluid dynamics has a wide range of applications, including calculating forces and moments on aircraft, determining the mass flow rate of petroleum through pipelines, predicting weather patterns, understanding nebulae in interstellar space and reportedly modelling fission weapon detonation. Some of its principles are even used in traffic engineering, where traffic is treated as a continuous fluid.
Fluid dynamics offers a systematic structure—which underlies these practical disciplines—that embraces empirical and semi-empirical laws derived from flow measurement and used to solve practical problems. The solution to a fluid dynamics problem typically involves calculating various properties of the fluid, such as velocity, pressure, density, and temperature, as functions of space and time.
Soft matter is a subfield of condensed matter comprising a variety of physical states that are easily deformed by thermal stresses or thermal fluctuations. They include liquids, colloids, polymers, foams, gels, granular materials, and a number of biological materials. These materials share an important common feature in that predominant physical behaviors occur at an energy scale comparable with room temperature thermal energy. At these temperatures, quantum aspects are generally unimportant. Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, who has been called the "founding father of soft matter," received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1991 for discovering that the order parameter from simple thermodynamic systems can be applied to the more complex cases found in soft matter, in particular, to the behaviors of liquid crystals and polymers.
In thermodynamics, a state function, function of state, state quantity, or state variable is a property of a system that depends only on the current state of the system, not on the way in which the system acquired that state (independent of path). A state function describes the equilibrium state of a system. For example, internal energy, enthalpy, and entropy are state quantities because they describe quantitatively an equilibrium state of a thermodynamic system, irrespective of how the system arrived in that state. In contrast, mechanical work and heat are process quantities because their values depend on the specific transition (or path) between two equilibrium states.
The opposite of a state function is a path function.
In fluid mechanics, the force density is the negative gradient of pressure. It has the physical dimensions of force per unit volume. Force density is a vector field representing the flux density of the hydrostatic force within the bulk of a fluid. Force density is represented by the symbol f, and given by the following equation, where P is the pressure:
The net force on a differental volume element dV of the fluid is:
In atmospheric science, balanced flow is an idealisation of atmospheric motion. The idealisation consists in considering the behaviour of one isolated parcel of air having constant density, its motion on a horizontal plane subject to selected forces acting on it and, finally, steady-state conditions.
Balanced flow is often an accurate approximation of the actual flow, and is useful in improving the qualitative understanding and interpretation of atmospheric motion. In particular, the balanced-flow speeds can be used as estimates of the wind speed for particular arrangements of the atmospheric pressure on Earth’s surface.
Note: Varies by jurisdiction
Note: Varies by jurisdiction