With $4 million in support from the New York-based Simons Foundation, an international team of researchers including Gregory Eyink of Johns Hopkins Engineering’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics is embarking on a study aimed at understanding fluid turbulence from a physics perspective.

“Our hope is that this collaboration will help to generate fundamental new points of view and progress on understanding turbulence,” said Eyink.

The Simons support comes in the form of grants to four groups, each spearheaded by a researcher with distinct—but overlapping—expertise in fluid turbulence, including Nigel Goldenfeld at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Björn Hoff of Austria’s Institute of Science and Technology; Gregory Falkovich of Israel’s Weizmann Institute;  and Eyink at Johns Hopkins. Work began on September 1.

“Most fluids encountered in our everyday life are in a turbulent state: wakes behind speeding vehicles, pots of boiling water on a stove, or oceans stirred by wind currents and tides,” explains Eyink. “The enhanced dissipation from turbulent drag wastes huge amounts of energy, and engineers want to find ways to reduce it. The enhanced mixing of water density by deep ocean turbulence plays a crucial role in the global circulation and Earth’s climate. Our project will focus, in particular. on fluid flows interacting with walls, boundaries and obstacles, which is the most common form of terrestrial turbulence.”

The Simons Foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences, and its Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) division supports research in mathematics, theoretical physics and theoretical computer science by providing funding for individuals, institutions and science infrastructure.

“Our aim is to interact with and complement the existing efforts in this area of both engineers and mathematicians,” Eyink said. “This is especially the case here at JHU, where there is an extremely strong tradition of turbulence research, including our own Turbulence Database Group, which is a multi-department effort involving mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, computer science, and physics.”