Geometry and Topology in Fluid Mechanics

School of Mathematics Colloquium
Thursday, October 2, 2008 - 11:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 269
School of Mathematics, Georgia Tech
Describe the trajectories of particles floating in a liquid. This is a surprisingly difficult problem and attempts to understand it have involved many diverse techniques. In the 60's Arold, Marsden, Ebin and others began to introduce topological techniques into the study of fluid flows. In this talk we will discuss some of these ideas and see how they naturally lead to the introduction of contact geometry into the study of fluid flows. We then consider some of the results one can obtain from this contact geometry perspective. For example we will show that for a sufficiently smooth steady ideal fluid flowing in the three sphere there is always some particle whose trajectory is a closed loop that bounds an embedded disk, and that (generically) certain steady Euler flows are (linearly) unstable.