Science: Is it True?

Dear All,

Is science true? Yes, that is the question. Is it really, really true? Helping to motivate this discussion, we recently assailed upon a little philosophy of math, here, where we remarked and marveled how math can represent both real and non-real things and yet both kinds can teach us about reality.

I thought this was incredible, and so it is! However, I used the Navier-Stokes equations in fluid mechanics as an example and as one commenter stated, even the respected Navier-Stokes equations aren’t true in the hard sense…they neglect many things like radioactive decay. This did not sit well with me, for I like to think what I am doing is true, and caused me to wonder what is truth, and what in science matches this. Let’s combine this discussion with a little science history.

Navier-Stokes momentum equation

Read moreScience: Is it True?

A Little Philosophy of Math

To All Concerned,

Through grad school this past year I have been amazed by Mathematics, mainly that is works! Math is amazing, in one way, because it actually describes the world. Since I believe the world functions in an orderly manner and according to fixed laws, (though those laws may be quite bazaar at times), this seems reasonable for math to describe these laws. Though this is amazing in its own right, this isn’t what has been boiling my noodle recently.

What’s been boiling my noodle is when math describes things that aren’t real, yet it may teach us things that are real. Here is what got me thinking about this:

Read moreA Little Philosophy of Math

Getting in the Wind Tunnel: Design

Dear Fellow Basement Scientists,

Ever wonder why textbooks are so long? Well, I figured it out! Its because there is a lot of information out there to learn and it takes quite a few pieces of paper to fit it all. Well, this blog post is a little longer, though not quite textbook length, because there is a lot of information required in applying that textbook knowledge to building our wind tunnel.

Its time for another day in the lab (basement). Lets review our situation: We built the tunnel, legs for the tunnel, and finished the bell mouth including the honeycomb. Before we go on to the fan and diffuser, we can’t forget the minor detail of accessing the inside of the wind tunnel once it’s built. We must have an opening so we can put our specimens into the wind tunnel. Otherwise we would have a very fancy and long fan. I was hoping for more than that.

Read moreGetting in the Wind Tunnel: Design

Wind Tunnel Honeycomb

Dear Fellow Basement Scientists,

Here we are, placing the last finishing touches on the entrance to the wind tunnel. This is pretty exciting! We are discussing today what is known at the honeycomb. I very briefly mentioned this part of the project in Wind Tunnel Design Overview, but now we will discuss its purpose and construction.

So, if you remember, the purpose of the bell mouth entrance is to reduce all the whirly-twirly turbulence coming into the test section. Reducing this turbulence increases the accuracy and consistency of lift and drag measurements. Well, believe it or not, despite all our valiant efforts on the bell mouth, there is still turbulence in the flow. Bummer! Well, no worries because we can simply install a honeycomb to help us out (as a note, there is always some turbulence in this flow, we are just reducing it as much as possible). A honeycomb consists of lots of little tubes. These tubes kill turbulence because there can’t be big swirls in a little tube.  Here is a highly technical drawing laying out the details of this complicated phenomenon:

Honeycomb Detail

Read moreWind Tunnel Honeycomb

Wind Tunnel Rib Cage

Dear Fellow Basement Scientists,

Wind Tunnel construction had taken a little break for our adventure into the world of interesting photos, but its time to meander back to our basements. Last time we planned the construction of the bell mouth so now we shall execute our plan. This part of the wind tunnel construction is a little more detailed oriented, which makes it more difficult, but the joy seeing it completed is even greater! There is unspeakable satisfaction when I behold on the table what I pictured in my mind.

Read moreWind Tunnel Rib Cage

Enter the Bell Mouth

Dear Fellows of the Basement Science Research Consortium,

For those new to the field, it is an important lesson to learn that the longer and more complicated the organization name, the more prestigious and talented the group. Therefore, we are part of a very important research group!

Our next task is to build the bell mouth. An overview of this was explained here a little earlier. I was trying to think of a good way to construct this as I was wandering though

Read moreEnter the Bell Mouth

Project: Wind Tunnel

One night laying in bed, I often can’t fall asleep because I am thinking about mechanical things, I was thinking about wing designs. Many PhDs, professors, and companies are trying to think of innovative aircraft design for increased performance. I had some interesting ideas which I had never seen before and wondered if they had any merit.  I decided I wanted to throw my hat in the ring. The only way to determine if they are any good is simulations in a computer program or a wind tunnel, for me then, wind tunnel it is.

Read moreProject: Wind Tunnel