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MIT solves 100-year-old engineering problem

Fri, Sep 26, 2008

News, Science and Technology

Scientists working at MIT have done it yet again. They are claiming to have cracked a 100 year old engineering problem.

As a car accelerates up and down a hill then slows to follow a hairpin turn, the airflow around it cannot keep up and detaches from the vehicle. This aerodynamic separation creates additional drag that slows the car and forces the engine to work harder. The same phenomenon affects airplanes, boats, submarines, and even your golf ball.

Now, in work that could lead to ways of controlling the effect with potential impacts on fuel efficiency and more, MIT scientists and colleagues have reported new mathematical and experimental work for predicting where that aerodynamic separation will occur.

The research solves “a century-old problem in the field of fluid mechanics,” or the study of how fluids — which for scientists include gases and liquids — move.

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