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The Fluid Systems Engineering and Management Blog

by Swagelok Northern California

The Physics of Water Impact

by Jeff Hopkins, on 8/22/18 1:00 PM

Studies could lead to improvements of manned space capsules

Although the phenomenon of objects entering water is as familiar as jumping into a pool on a hot day, the physics involved is surprisingly little understood. Researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering have begun to explore this little-known area of inquiry. They have released preliminary results on what happens when a solid object enters a body of water that contains other solid, stationary objects like rocks or ice.

The team plunged a solid wedge into a tank of water in which a buoyant cylinder floated. They then analyzed acceleration, pressure, depth, and the flow and speed of water displaced by the wedge. The presence of the cylinder changed the physics of the wedge’s impact in surprising—and contradictory—ways. Further studies could lead to improvements of ship design, seaplanes, or even manned space capsules.

Read the NYU Tandon School of Engineering press release →
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