Osborne Reynolds

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Reynolds, Osborne,

1842–1912, British mechanical engineer. He was educated at Cambridge and became (1868) the first professor of engineering at the Univ. of Manchester, where his courses attracted a number of outstanding students. He developed the theory of the radiometer and determined by direct measurement the mechanical equivalent of heat. Reynolds made many contributions to theoretical engineering. His work on fluid dynamics includes the introduction of the dimensionless Reynolds numberReynolds number
[for Osborne Reynolds], dimensionless quantity associated with the smoothness of flow of a fluid. It is an important quantity used in aerodynamics and hydraulics.
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Reynolds, Osborne


Born Aug. 23, 1842, in Belfast; died Feb. 21, 1912, in Watchet, Somerset. British physicist and engineer. Fellow of the London Royal Society from 1877.

Reynolds graduated from Cambridge University in 1867 and in 1868 became a professor at Owens College, now the Victoria University of Manchester. In 1888 he became head of the Whit-worth Engineering Laboratory. His principal works were devoted to the theory of dynamic similarity in viscous fluid flow, the theory of turbulence, and the theory of lubrication. In the period 1876–83, Reynolds established experimentally the criterion for the transition from laminar to turbulent flow in cylindrical pipes. He proposed differential equations for the averaged motion of a fluid that take into account the additional stresses (turbulent stresses). Reynolds contributed greatly to the development of a hydrodynamic theory of lubrication. He also studied the phenomenon of cavitation on the blades of a rotating propeller, the atmospheric refraction of sound, the group velocity of wave propagation on the surface of water, and the transfer of heat from solids to fluids.


Papers on Mechanical and Physical Subjects, vols. 1–3. Cambridge, 1900–03.
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