I get a lot of questions from people who want to learn more about fluid dynamics, whether casually or seriously. Below are some resources that may be useful in such pursuits. Affiliate links are marked with an asterisk (*).
- NCFMF Fluid Mechanics Series – This series of videos date from the 1960s and is intended to teach undergraduates about fluid dynamics. They remain an incredible source of demonstrations on all kinds of subjects in fluids. They feel a bit slow, but they are well worth the time.
- Khan Academy’s Fluids series – A twelve part video series addressing some fundamentals of fluid dynamics.
- CrashCourse Physics – If you want to dig into fluids further, it helps to know the basics. After all, the Navier-Stokes equations are simply Newton’s Laws applied to a fluid!
- Science Off The Sphere – This video series by astronaut Don Pettit features FD and other physics in space.
- Physics Central – Not FD-specific, but this website features lots of great educational physics, including fluid dynamics.
- MIT + K12 – Includes fluids-related video lessons as well as many other science subjects.
- Library Laboratory (LIB LAB) – This project comes from fluid dynamicist A. J. Fillo. It’s aimed toward kids but is fun for all ages. Includes fluid dynamics and other topics in physics.
- The Lutetium Project – This channel is produced by fluid dynamicists in France in conjunction with art and music students, so it offers a great intersection of art and science. Videos are available in French and English.
- U of Colorado’s Flow Visualization – One of my favorite websites dedicated to FD, this interdisciplinary course features engineering and art students working together to make beautiful FD. If you are at Colorado, take this course. Seriously.
- APS Gallery of Fluid Motion – Every year the American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics publishes the year’s best FD photos and videos. Most of this will look familiar to FYFD readers.
- CFD-Online – For anyone looking to get into computational fluid dynamics (CFD), this website and forum is full of great resources and comprehensive links.
- Learn ChemE – Full of videos, screencasts, and simulations relevant to fluid dynamics.
- Flow Visualization Facebook group – A nice place to find links to fun FD and clouds.
- eFluids – More pretty pictures and videos from researchers.
- opencalculus – Not directly fluids-related, but if you want to dig further into the subject, a strong foundation in math is important (see note to undergrads below).
- Teaching Fluid Mechanics – This website focuses on demonstrations that can be used in the classroom to help teach and illustrate fluid dynamics concepts.
Other FD Blogs
- FlowViz – Focuses on general FD, much like FYFD does
- Physics in Drops – Exploring the world of microfluidics
- Liquifun – Lots of car-related aerodynamics as well as general FD
- Symscape – Computational fluid dynamics, for the most part, but with general FD thrown in
Books (No Diff EQ Needed)
- An Album of Fluid Motion(*) by Milton van Dyke – This is a classic visual guide to fluid dynamics for laymen and practitioners alike.
- The Life and Legacy of G. I. Taylor(*) by G. K. Batchelor – A great biography of one of the major fluid dynamicists of the 20th century. Taylor’s adventures range from measuring atmospheric turbulence from a ship deck to teaching himself to fly in WWI to measure pressure on a wing; from studying the swimming of microorganisms to helping predict the blast wave from the atomic bomb. Batchelor provides great insight into the man and his scientific process.
- Life in Moving Fluids(*) by Steven Vogel – This text was written as an introduction to fluid dynamics for biologists and focuses largely on the subject’s applicability to that field. There’s some math in here, but not too much. Check out my full review.
Books (For Those With Calculus/Diff EQ)
- Fundamentals of Aerodynamics(*) by John Anderson – Anderson is known for textbooks (he has a bunch) that are good at introducing important concepts in fluid dynamics and aerodynamics without super-advanced mathematics and notation. This was my first aerodynamics textbook and my first introduction to the Navier-Stokes equations during my junior year.
- Boundary Layer Theory(*) by Hermann Schlichting – Most of this text actually comes from 1930s German fluid dynamics class notes. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a great reference for advanced undergrads/early graduates working in FD.
For Undergrads Who Want More Fluids But Don’t Know Where To Start
In addition to the resources above, I have a couple of tips.
- Look for professors who study fluid dynamics. – Check your school’s websites. Profs who do FD are often found in mechanical, aerospace, civil, and chemical engineering, but they can also be found in physics, mathematics, geology, atmospheric science, and theoretical and applied mechanics departments. Check out their research pages, find their office hours, and go talk to them. Volunteer to work in their lab. Demonstrate your interest!
- Check out the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU) program. Positions in this program exist all over the U.S. and frequently involve doing research over the summer. Even if your school doesn’t have anyone who does FD, you can find a school that does and do research there over the summer. (Suggestion when looking for positions: search for “fluid”, “fluid dynamics”, “fluid mechanics”, etc.) If you like it, consider graduate school!
- Build strong mathematical skills. – One aspect of fluids education I lament is its tendency to come so late (or not at all) in a students’ education—that’s part of why FYFD exists. But the truth is that researching FD requires a lot of math—calculus, differential equations, partial differential equations, etc.—courses that get taken in freshmen and sophomore years of college before professors even start talking about FD. Having a strong foundation in these subjects is very helpful, but it’s not a prerequisite to working in a lab as an undergrad.
Got more suggestions for helpful fluid dynamics resources? Let me know.
(*) Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. Following these links and making a purchase may provide a commission to FYFD at no additional cost to you.