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Making waves on the "mathematical canal"

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Catherine Pearson.

John Scott Russell’s discovery of solitary waves on the Union Canal in 1834 is one of the most famous anecdotes in fluid mechanics, retold in many textbooks and commemorated in the name of a bridge. But what research programme was Russell involved in, what were the results, and how closely is it connected to the world’s first fatal motor-vehicle accident?

Drawing on contemporary records as well as more recent scholarship reveals the tensions in the background to both Russell’s experiments and his multiple versions of the discovery story, and helps us to reconstruct a complicated and sometimes shady episode at the interface of science, engineering, and industry.

This talk is part of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Flows (IEEF) series.

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