Going With the Flow

On February 8, 1700, Swiss scientist, mathematician, and physician Daniel Bernoulli was born. His father, a well-known mathematician spent several decades encouraging his son to do everything else but become a mathematician because it didn’t pay well. But when both he and his son submitted work to the French Academy and father had to share the prize with son, the father raged and turned his son from the house.

However, with all his different skills and science backgrounds, this son continued to make news throughout his lifetime about some new discovery or theory after another. He also didn’t share a prize with his father again… he simply continued to win the annual prize of the French Academy of Sciences… ten times. The prize attracted the most illustrious mathematicians in Europe. He submitted work in different disciplines concerning topics as varied as astronomy, tides, magnetism, best design for a ship’s anchor, method for determining time at sea, ocean currents, effects of forces acting upon ships at sea, and how to reduce the pitch and roll of a ship in heavy seas. Hard to compete with young Bernoulli, a man as interested in flows through water or gas pipes as in the harmonics of organ pipes. He could “see” connections that others could not and describe them more clearly if they could.

One of his best-known propositions concerned his take on the conservation of energy. His scientist peers knew that a moving body exchanged kinetic energy for another potential energy form. Bernoulli recognized that if that moving body was a fluid, the kinetic energy could be exchanged for pressure. For example, when fluid flows through a pipe that narrows or widens, the velocity of the fluid and its pressure vary. Although fluid moves more quickly through the narrow section, the pressure decreases. In this way, Bernoulli’s principle addresses changes in speed and changes in pressure within a flow field. Lots of material to work on for centuries of engineers that followed.

Bernoulli was a Science Star in his lifetime, receiving honours, society memberships, and requests for appearances and appointments from Italy to Russia, from London to Bern.

the brilliant Bernoulli

the brilliant Bernoulli


B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage


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