Link for the week: canal knowledge

Dr Penny Davies has pointed out an appearance of Scottish mathematics in the BBC’s Coast programme. Episode 4 of season 8, “Rivers and Seas Collide”, includes a segment on the Union and Forth–Clyde canals, and they focus on John Scott Russell’s discovery of what he called the “wave of translation” — a startling fluid-dynamical phenomenon which is now recognised as a soliton. It’s the first time I’ve seen a full-scale demonstration of this type of wave, which remains a topic of active mathematical research.

The relevant segment starts at about 33 minutes in on the iPlayer version, and the programme should be available to view online for another couple of weeks. It’s worth a look!


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