Fluid Mind

Sometimes technical language can be just beautiful. Recently I came across the concept of helical strakes. They prevent vortex shedding. Taste the words: helical strakes and vortex shedding. Sounds like something from Doctor Who.

Have you ever played Poohsticks? Then you probably have seen vortex shedding in the water. It's the eddies forming behind the downstream part of rocks in the river. Apparently, there is a World Pooh Sticks Championship if you care to go professional.

The same phenomenon occurs with wind blowing on bluff structures, such as wires and chimneys. One challenge is that when the fluid flow past the object it creates alternating low-pressure vortices on the downstream side of the object. The object will tend to move toward the low-pressure zone. This can result in making the structure resonate and the oscillations can damage or even destroy the object.
From Wanås 2011
Christopher Scruton and D. E. J. Walshe, working at the National Physics Laboratory in Great Britain, were determined to find a way to prevent these kinds of damages. They invented the helical strake and first published the results in 1957. Interestingly, they successfully filed for a patent the year after. Today, more than 350 patents on helical strakes have been granted.

"Good measurement improves productivity and quality; it underpins consumer confidence and trade and is vital to innovation. We undertake research and share our expertise with government, business and society to help enhance economic performance and the quality of life. NPL's measurements help to save lives, protect the environment, enable citizens to feel safe and secure, as well as supporting international trade and companies to innovation. Support in areas such as the development of advanced medical treatments and environmental monitoring helps secure a better quality of life for all." National Physics Laboratory

Maybe helical strakes could be used as a metaphor? For persons standing tall, standing up for their beliefs or what they know is true, turmoil is often felt around them. Maybe persons nearby can act as helical strakes, diverting the flow in new directions and making sure the person does not break down. Or he/she can mentally picture them, as a way to avoid resigning to become more streamlined in opinions. Or we just stick to the technical term and appreciate its existence.

No comments: