What is science learning about fluid dynamics? How about this from USA Today science columnist Dan Vergano, who suggests science may have missed "something fundamental" about turbulence for quite some time:
Naturally, we do know some things aboutturbulence, observations that pertain to air, gas and liquids alike. 'Generally, the motion of fluids is smooth and laminar at low speeds but becomes highly disordered and turbulent as the velocity increases,' notes a paper by a physics team led by Bjorn Hof of the United Kingdom's University of Manchester in the current Nature. After making the full-fledged transition from smooth to turbulent flow, the paper adds, 'it is generally assumed that, under steady conditions, the turbulent state will persist indefinitely.'
Maybe not. Describing an experiment by Hof's team, Vergano goes on:
'In contrast to previous findings,' the team found that turbulence in the pipe always returned to smooth flows, if one waited long enough. The finding suggests that rather than turbulence obliterating smooth flow, fluids somehow retain the ability to reorganize themselves back into a regular pattern.
The Nature executive summary is here.
Wikipedia: chaos theory