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STANLEY CORRSIN 1920-1986 BY HANS W. LIEPMANN STANLEY CORRSIN Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University, cried of cancer on June 2, 1986. With his death the community of research- ers in and practitioners of fluid physics and fluid engineering lost one of its outstanding contributors. Many of us, includ- ing myself, lost a close friend. Dr. Corrsin was born on April 3, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He obtained a B.S. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940 and entered the California Institute of Technology as a graduate student, finishing his M.S. in 1942 and his Ph.D. in ~ 947. The bulk of his research for the Ph.D. was actually finished in late 1943, but Corrsin came to Caltech at a time when a technologically unprepared United States facet! the prospect of war and a modern air force had to be built in the shortest possible time. A deeper understanding of some of the fun- damental problems of fluid mechanics had to be acquired by a small number of competent people to help in the design of advanced aircraft. Gifted graduate students thus were drawn immediately into research and development work, stretching their abilities and stamina to the limit. In the five years between receiving his M.S. and Ph.D., Corrsin not only finished a thesis on the flow of a turbulent jet, which became a classic in the field, but also participated 95
96 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES in many other research and testing projects in progress at the time, including work on what was then a secret project to develop a laminar airfoil. He also served as an instructor in aeronautics. His outstanding writing ability he had at one time consiclered becoming a professional writer was quite evident and a great help to him, even at this early stage in his career. When Corrsin left Caltech in 1947 to become an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University, he was already an acknowledgecl expert in turbulence research. The complex, fascinating field! of turbulence in all of its manifestations re- mainect his primary interest throughout his life, just as Johns Hopkins remained his permanent academic home. Corrsin advanced to the rank of associate professor of aeronautics in 1951 and then was named professor of me- chanical engineering and chairman of the Mechanical En- gineering Department in 1955. In line with changes in the departmental structure at Johns Hopkins, his affiliation changer! twice: first to mechanics and materials science in 1960 ant! finally to chemical engineering in 1980. In 198~ he became the first Theophilus Halley Smoot Professor of En- gineering ant! held a concurrent professorship in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Corrsin contributed successfully to experimental and theo- retical research. He strove for clarity of aim and precision in execution in both theory ant! experiment, and he was willing and able to acquire the necessary tools to deal with any phys- ical or applied problem of interest to him. For example, Corrsin was one of the very few researchers who familiarizer! themselves with diagram techniques, which at one time seemed to hold promise in attempts to clarify the sequence of nonlinear coupling terms in wavenumber space. His quest for clarity and precision had one negative result: He never finisher! the book he planner! on fluict mechanics, which was to have been based on his lecture notes. ~ am given to under- stand, however, that these notes in the hancis of his pupils have contributes! much to the fluid] mechanics courses in sev- eral university curricula.
STANLEY CORRSIN 97 Short articles on dimensional analysis, the derivation of Eulers equations, and the interpretation of the viscous terms in the turbulent energy equation are further samples of Corrsin's serious concern for a correct simplicity in the teach- ing of funclamentals. He worked very hard anct wrote easily. His hundred or so publications couIct easily have been doubled but for his pronounced self-criticism and urge for perfection. Corrsin's contribution to the Handbuch der Physik and to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Physics on Experimentation in Turbulence Research is further proof of his more pedagogi- cal interests, which culminated in a set of some twenty-five cloctoral theses that were carried through under his guid- ance. Many of his Ph.D. students by now have macle their own mark in various aspects of fluid] mechanics. Corrsin contributed a number of lasting ideas and re- sults for example, as his first publishect paper shows, he recognized the so-called intermittence in turbulence as early as 1943. The first serious experimental verification of the concept of local isotropy is credited to him. The still lively discussions concerning the validity of gradient transport in turbulent shear flows collie be much improved if the partic- ipants were to take the time to read Corrsin's publications clearing with the subject. He also contributes! a number of nontrivial applications of stochastic theory to problems suggested by the turbulence field. These contributions includect a stucly conducted with I. B. Morton of the statistical properties of the Duping oscil- lator under random forcing, comparing various closure pro- posals for turbulence with the results from a Fokker-Planck solution. In later years, Corrsin cleveloped an interest in medical and biological problems and brought his expertise with fluid flow to bear on a variety of subjects such as the motion of the precorneal fluid film of the eye and maternal blooct flow in the placenta. His long-standing interest and competence in aerodynamics were applied to problems of bird flight. Premedical students at Johns Hopkins had the opportunity to take his rather unusual course "Animal Motion," which
98 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES offerect a rare chance to learn something about real applied mechanics. His list of fellowships and honors reflects the high esteem in which his contributions are held both here ant! abroad. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Amer- ican Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was named Docteur Hon- oris Cause of the University of Lyon and was elected to mem- bership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1980. He also received the 1983 Fluid Dynamics Prize of the American Physical Society. In a field of long standing such as fluid mechanics a field that is crucial for a host of engineering applications, but that still contains unresolved fundamental physics problems- spectacular breakthroughs are virtually nonexistent. Pro- gress proceeds on a wide front in larger or smaller steps. Corrsin has contributed to the fields of aeronautical, chemi- cal, and mechanical engineering as well as to the biological anc! physical sciences. In some of these steps, he will be re- memberect as an original and productive researcher. The people who knew him personally will remember Stan as an articulate, critical, but very warm personality with an un- usually pleasant sense of humor. Corrsin is survived by his wife Barbara (nee Dagett) and two children, Nancy Eliot ant] Stephen Davis.