Celebrating Turbulence

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Laminar flow is easy to love, but turbulence is a far richer phenomenon. That’s the premise behind Veritasium’s new video (and, yes, I agree with him). In the video Derek provides a nice introduction to turbulence, including a checklist of qualities a turbulent flow must have.

Personally, I don’t classify flows as simply being either laminar or turbulent; I view those two states as ends of a spectrum, which means there are many flows that fall somewhere in-between. (For more on what happens between laminar and turbulent, check out my video on transition.)

As neat and eye-catching as laminar flow can be, turbulence is critical to life as we know it. It’s a necessary ingredient in cloud and raindrop formation. It drives the mixing of blood in our hearts. It keeps the leaves on trees from overheating. Without it, your coffee would be cold long before your cream mixes in. Turbulence is even critical to star formation; without turbulence, our entire solar system might have lacked the matter and time necessary to form! (Video and image credit: Veritasium)

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