Fluid Mechanics Research in 1986
In 1965, a book was published with the title Research Frontiers in Fluid Dynamics, edited by Raymond Seeger and G. Temple. It was intended to give a panoramic view of some exciting vistas in fluid dynamics. It covered the following areas: (1) High-speed aerodynamics; (2) magnetophydrodynamics (MHD); (3) physics of fluids (low or high density, low or high temperature, etc); (4) constitutive properties of fluids (viscosity, viscoelasticity, etc.); (5) oceanography and meterology; (6) astrophysical and planetary fluid mechanics; and (7) mathematical aspects and numerical aspects. A few of these areas, such as MHD, have blossomed and faded away within a short decade. Some others, such as high-speed aerodynamics, have reached maturity and hope to keep their momentum. In the intervening years, we have witnessed that a number of fields in fluid mechanics have revived from their old times into a new life; still, some have emerged with brand new growth. For instance, the subject of long waves has had a colorful development, with the result of improving our understanding of at least seven different physical phenomena, though originally the solitary water wave was its home base. Low Reynolds number flows have again received new stimuli from many needed applications such as aerosol physics, two-phase flows, rheology, geophysics of the earth interior, as well as micro and molecular biology. Oil exploration has motivated various aspects of marine-related research and development, giving ever-increasing activities in ocean engineering. The energy program, a new glamorous field by its own importance, has brought forth investigations of fluid mechanical problems pertaining to nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, ocean wave, and other forms of energy sources. Riding on the waves of these broad movements that have carried us thus far, we now hope to forecast the future of fluid mechanics research in 1986. We may like to put the focus at a slightly different depth and ask: What will be the most significant areas of fluid mechanics that by 1986 will enjoy the best prospects of vigorous development, most rewarding not only to the fluid dynamicist but also to mankind, and by then, still offer the expectation of longevity into the 1990's? The task is almost as hard as to make a prophecy on what the political world will be in 1986.