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How the Titanic Tragedy transformed Trinity: Turbulence Theory and Taylor in the Teens

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George Ingram Taylor (Trinity undergraduate 1905-1908; elected fellow 1910) was one of the most influential applied mathematicians of the 20th century, who made a huge number of contributions to fluid and solid mechanics. This talk will focus on the significance, for both Cambridge Mathematics and the world at large, of the work presented in his Adams Prize Essay of 1915 on “Turbulent Motion in Fluids”. Some of the key results presented in this essay, the partial manuscript of which is held in the Trinity Library, rely on data taken by Taylor himself on the first “Ice Patrol” cruise, triggered by the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic. The essay was actually written when Taylor was participating in the first world war effort designing aircraft at Farnborough for the precursor of the Royal Air Force, and the talk will also consider the lasting influence on applied mathematics of Taylor’s philosophical approach to research.

This talk is part of the Trinity Mathematical Society series.

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