A First Course in Dimensional Analysis: Simplifying Complex Phenomena Using Physical Insight
An introduction to dimensional analysis, a method of scientific analysis used to investigate and simplify complex physical phenomena, demonstrated through a series of engaging examples.
This book offers an introduction to dimensional analysis, a powerful method of scientific analysis used to investigate and simplify complex physical phenomena. The method enables bold approximations and the generation of testable hypotheses. The book explains these analyses through a series of entertaining applications; students will learn to analyze, for example, the limits of world-record weight lifters, the distance an electric submarine can travel, how an upside-down pendulum is similar to a running velociraptor, and the number of Olympic rowers required to double boat speed.
The book introduces the approach through easy-to-follow, step-by-step methods that show how to identify the essential variables describing a complex problem; explore the dimensions of the problem and recast it to reduce complexity; leverage physical insights and experimental observations to further reduce complexity; form testable scientific hypotheses; combine experiments and analysis to solve a problem; and collapse and present experimental measurements in a compact form. Each chapter ends with a summary and problems for students to solve. Taken together, the analyses and examples demonstrate the value of dimensional analysis and provide guidance on how to combine and enhance dimensional analysis with physical insights. The book can be used by undergraduate students in physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, sports science, and astronomy.
About the Author
Juan G. Santiago is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Microfluidics Laboratory. He is cofounder of several companies in the microfluidics area and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.