A Simulation Milestone

Until around 1980, few researchers attempted to simulate even very simple turbulent flows in their entirety. That year we and our co-workers at the NASA Ames Research Center used a pioneering parallel computer, the ILLIAC-IV, to perform the largest turbulence simulations achieved until then. The work was well received; soberingly enough, however, it was not the quality of the data that won over many of our colleagues but rather a five-minute motion picture of the simulated flow. The movie showed trajectories of marker particles in a turbulent flow between parallel plates (left); remarkably, it resembled similar visualizations made two decades earlier, by filming actual water flow in a laboratory at Stanford University (right).

--P.M. and J.K.

Credit left: Parviz Moin and John Kim; Credit right: Steven Kline