MechE Colloquium: How flight, clouds and turbulence teach us about each other


Event details

Date 01.11.2022
Hour 12:0013:00
Speaker Prof. Gregory Bewley, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University
Location Online
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Abstract: In addition to steady winds and thermals, a bird in flight encounters gusts and puffs. A bird probably embodies practical knowledge about whether these fluctuations will lift or slow it. These same fluctuations tend to accelerate cloud droplets downward as they fall to earth. At BATL, we take the perspective of a bird, droplet, or particle moving with a turbulent flow to understand how we might put turbulence to work for us. In order to do this, we need to understand turbulence itself. At present we cannot predict the sometimes intense bursts or subtle structures created by turbulence, nor their roles in the lifetimes of clouds or birds. At BATL, we have observed how important turbulence is to flight, how it can benefit flight, how it mediates interactions between cloud droplets, and how the structure of turbulence is both detailed and universal. Because of the difficulty of these problems, solutions come through intensive collaboration that integrate a diversity of approaches, which we actively seek, and which also broaden our students’ perspectives. What we hope results from our work includes new principles of flight that embrace fluctuations rather than rejecting them, new physical models for the atmosphere that incorporate the micro-scale interactions within it, and new theories about how fluctuations develop in the special way that they do in turbulence.

Biography: Professor Bewley studies turbulence and its effects on the environment and engineered devices by performing laboratory and field experiments. Bewley developed interests in superfluid turbulence while earning his PhD from Yale University, and in turbulent atmospheric clouds while working at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Germany. At Cornell, he is pursuing new opportunities in discovering the way turbulence behaves differently at high speeds than at low ones, and in the way we can engineer strategies to navigate turbulent flows while in flight.

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free



MechE Colloquium: How flight clouds and turbulence teach us about each other