Selected topics of fluid mechanics

Water Supply Paper 1369-A




The fundamental equations of fluid mechanics are specific expressions of the principles of motion which are ascribed to Isaac Newton. Thus, the equations which form the framework of applied fluid mechanics or hydraulics are, in addition to the equation of continuity, the Newtonian equations of energy and momentum. These basic relationships are also the foundations of river hydraulics. The fundamental equations are developed in this report with sufficient rigor to support critical examinations of their applicability to most problems met by hydraulic engineers of the Water Resources Division of the United States Geological Survey. Physical concepts are emphasized, and mathematical procedures are the simplest consistent with the specific requirements of the derivations. In lieu of numerical examples, analogies, and alternative procedures, this treatment stresses a brief methodical exposition of the essential principles. An important objective of this report is to prepare the user to read the literature of the science. Thus, it begins With a basic vocabulary of technical symbols, terms, and concepts. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the language of modern fluid mechanics as it pertains to hydraulic engineering. The basic differential and integral equations of simple fluid motion are derived, and these equations are, in turn, used to describe the essential characteristics of hydrostatics and piezometry. The one-dimensional equations of continuity and motion are defined and are used to derive the general discharge equation. The flow net is described as a means of demonstrating significant characteristics of two-dimensional irrotational flow patterns. A typical flow net is examined in detail. The influence of fluid viscosity is described as an obstacle to the derivation of general, integral equations of motion. It is observed that the part played by viscosity is one which is usually dependent on experimental evaluation. It follows that the dimensionless ratios known as the Euler, Froude, Reynolds, Weber, and Cauchy numbers are defined as essential tools for interpreting and using experimental data. The derivations of the energy and momentum equations are treated in detail. One-dimensional equations for steady nonuniform flow are developed, and the restrictions applicable to the equations are emphasized. Conditions of uniform and gradually varied flow are discussed, and the origin of the Chezy equation is examined in relation to both the energy and the momentum equations. The inadequacy of all uniform-flow equations as a means of describing gradually varied flow is explained. Thus, one of the definitive problems of river hydraulics is analyzed in the light of present knowledge. This report is the outgrowth of a series of short schools conducted during the spring and summer of 1953 for engineers of the Surface Water Branch, Water Resources Division, U. S. Geological Survey. The topics considered are essentially the same as the topics selected for inclusion in the schools. However, in order that they might serve better as a guide and outline for informal study, the arrangement of the writer's original lecture notes has been considerably altered. The purpose of the report, like the purpose of the schools which inspired it, is to build a simple but strong framework of the fundamentals of fluid mechanics. It is believed that this framework is capable of supporting a detailed analysis of most of the practical problems met by the engineers of the Geological Survey. It is hoped that the least accomplishment of this work will be to inspire the reader with the confidence and desire to read more of the recent and current technical literature of modern fluid mechanics.

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USGS Numbered Series
Selected topics of fluid mechanics
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Water Supply Paper
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U.S. Govt. Print. Off.,
154 p. :illus., maps. ;24 cm. :1-51 p.