Sheila Widnall — MIT Institute Professor

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WIDNALL: There is an instability called the Widnall instability. It deals with the instability of vortex flows, and it affects both vortex rings and also the wakes of aircraft. One of the applications of this kind of fluid mechanics is in the question of, how long do aircraft wakes live? And that's kind of important, because if you land a plane after somebody else has landed, then you could get caught up, and your plane would tip over, and you would fly into the ground and be killed.

So it is kind of a, technically, very important issue. It totally controls the separation of aircraft landing at airports. Well, I think for somebody in fluid dynamics it's always nice to have an instability named after you. That's a great honor.