The Enigma of the Aerofoil Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930

by David Bloor

The Enigma of the Aerofoil Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930 Synopsis

Why do aircraft fly? How do their wings support them? In the early years of aviation, there was an intense dispute between British and German experts over the question of why and how an aircraft wing provides lift. The British, under the leadership of the great Cambridge mathematical physicist Lord Rayleigh, produced highly elaborate investigations of the nature of discontinuous flow, while the Germans, following Ludwig Prandtl in Gottingen, relied on the tradition called technical mechanics to explain the flow of air around a wing. Much of the basis of modern aerodynamics emerged from this remarkable episode, yet it has never been subject to a detailed historical and sociological analysis. In The Enigma of the Aerofoil , David Bloor probes a neglected aspect of this important period in the history of aviation. Bloor draws upon papers by the participants - their restricted technical reports, meeting minutes, and personal correspondence, much of which has never before been published - and reveals the impact that the divergent mathematical traditions of Cambridge and Gottingen had on this great debate. Bloor also addresses why the British, even after discovering the failings of their own theory, remained resistant to the German circulation theory for more than a decade. The result is essential reading for anyone studying the history, philosophy, or sociology of science or technology - and for all those intrigued by flight.

The Enigma of the Aerofoil Rival Theories in Aerodynamics, 1909-1930 Press Reviews

A masterpiece of writing and research. David Bloor brings his varied background to the table, writing the only book that describes a wonderful mixture of the scientific, historical, philosophical, and sociological forces that help to explain the 'enigma' of the aerofoil. (John D. Anderson Jr., National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

Book Information

ISBN: 9780226060958
Publication date: 11th November 2011
Author: David Bloor
Publisher: University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 608 pages
Categories: Aerospace & aviation technology, History of engineering & technology,

About David Bloor

David Bloor is professor emeritus in the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Knowledge and Social Imagery and coauthor of Scientific Knowledge: A Sociological Analysis, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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