9R38. Perspectives in Fluid Dynamics: A Collective Introduction to Current Research. - Edited by GK Batchelor, HK Moffatt (Isaac Newton Inst for Math Sci, Univ Cambridge, 20 Clarkson Rd, Cambridge, CB3 0EH, UK), and MG Worster (Inst of Theor Geophys, DAMTP, Univ Cambridge, Silver St, Cambridge, CB3 9EW, UK). Cambridge UP, Cambridge, UK. 2000. 631 pp. ISBN 0-521-78061-6. $160.00.

Reviewed by M Gad-el-Hak (Dept of Aerospace and Mech Eng, Univ of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN 46556).

This book is an eclectic assemblage of 11 introductory articles on different topics in fluid mechanics. The three editors as well as the authors of all chapters are established authorities on their specialities and are well known within the fluid dynamics community at large. All three editors and 5 of the 11 authors are from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Cambridge University, an important center for fluid mechanics research since George K Batchelor founded the department in 1959.

The chapter titles and authors are: Interfacial Fluid Dynamics (Stephen H Davis); Viscous Fingering as an Archetype for Growth Patterns (Yves Couder); Blood Flow in Arteries and Veins (Timothy J Pedley); Open Shear Flow Instabilities (Patrick Huerre); Turbulence (Javier Jime´nez); Convection in the Environment (Paul F Linden); Reflections on Magnetohydrodynamics (H Keith Moffatt); Solidification of Fluids (M Grae Worster); Geological Fluid Mechanics (Herbert E Huppert); The Dynamic Ocean (Christopher Garrett); and On Global-Scale Atmospheric Circulations (Michael E McIntyre). The order has a sense of progression: laminar flows, instabilities, turbulence, physical processes that act on fluids, and finally, geophysical phenomena.

The idea for Perspectives in Fluid Dynamics was born when Batchelor set out to prepare a sequel to his famous textbook An Introduction to Fluid Dynamics, first published in 1967. For the reason that fluid mechanics has broadened so much in the intervening 30 years, Batchelor concluded that the task was beyond any one person. He then invited Professors Moffatt and Worster to join him in editing the present book with the goal of providing an introduction to different topics in fluid mechanics of current research interest. Each author was charged with being didactic rather than providing a comprehensive survey of the literature surrounding their subject. The 11 distinguished authors, including two of the editors, succeeded marvelously carrying out their charge.

The average length of a chapter is 57 pages. All chapters are exquisitely written and do provide a superb introduction to and significant understanding of their respective topics. Davis’ coverage of interfacial phenomena, Pedley’s description of artery and vein flows, and Moffatt’s reflections on magnetohydrodynamics are particularly delightful to read. Jime´nez was charged with the inhumane task of covering turbulence in 58 pages, and he cavalierly agreed. Imagine a first-timer trying to tour the magnificent Madrid in 58 minutes! Linden, Huppert, Garrett, and McIntyre all write about fluid flows at the geophysical scale. The book is well produced and meticulously copyedited and typeset in crisp LaTeX by Cambridge. A hard search yielded only a meager typographical error. The book contains plenty of illustrations including several color photographs.

Despite all the positives, this reviewer has a slight concern with three issues; all have to do with the book’s raison d’e´tre. First, no subject is so broad as to preclude covering its fundamentals in a single textbook, at the graduate or undergraduate level. This reviewer has three books on his personal bookshelves simply titled Physics. Fluid mechanics, as broad and important as it is, is a minor sub-branch of physics. Thus, justifying the present book because no one person can do a sequel to Batchelor’s textbook is simply not convincing. Secondly, the present book is not quite suited as an alternative or even as a supplement to a good, graduate-level textbook in fluid mechanics. Insufficient introductory materials are provided here for either purpose. Despite a statement by the editors to the contrary, a student needs to comprehend Batchelor’s classical textbook or equivalent first before he or she ventures to read the present book. Lastly, the 11 topics covered in the present book, as important as they may be, are by no means exhaustive. Many other topics missing here are just as important, for example astrophysical flows, combustion, flow control, microfluidics, rotating flows, stratified flows, granular flows, multi-phase flows, rarefied gas dynamics, acoustics, fluid-structure interaction problems, and finally the application to fluid dynamics of modern mathematical tools such as wavelets and dynamical systems theory. In fairness, the editors do state at the outset that the present coverage is not intended to be exhaustive.

The present book’s chapters compare well with the typical article in Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics. There are around 20 articles per volume, and so the Annual Review covered literally dozens of topics since its inception in 1972; some of course more than once. Another peer is Research Trends in Fluid Dynamics, edited by Lumley, Acrivos, Leal, and Leibovich (American Institute of Physics, Woodbury NY, 1996). There the 28 chapters were typically shorter, but were more forward looking and covered more fluid mechanics territories.

In summary, Perspectives in Fluid Dynamics includes contributions from 11 distinguished scholars who cover very well important topics in fluid mechanics. Researchers in all areas of fluid mechanics can be introduced painlessly, gently, and fruitfully to newer areas. The book is a joy to read for those who already know fluid mechanics.