Episode 84

Can Water Compute? With Prof. Eva Miranda

Here’s something weird to think about. Can fluids think? No, we’re not talking about a liquid metal shape-shifting creature like what we saw in Terminator 2. We’re asking,  can fluid systems make computations?

In this episode, we chat with Professor Eva Miranda, head of the Laboratory of Geometry and Dynamical Systems at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain.

She’s on a mission exploring one of math’s most famous open problems – the existence of solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation, which governs the flow of fluids such as water and air.

Since the 1800’s, researchers interested in how fluids flow have turned to Navier-Stokes. To investigate Navier-Stokes, Eva and her colleagues have constructed an abstract mathematical machine, a theoretical fluid computer, if you will.

In this podcast, Professor Miranda tells us how a post from Australian Mathematician Terence Tao inspired her, how she used geometry to construct her fluid computer, and why she believes that Navier-Stokes might not always be physically valid.

Our host for this episode is Dr James Nichols, a mathematician and Lecturer at the Australian National University.  James caught up with Professor Miranda at the Foundations of Computational Mathematics (FoCM) Conference in Paris in June.

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